The Times of Israel live blogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.
Germany issues a federal decree outlawing the Hezbollah terror group in its entirety, including its political wing, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announces.
The order bans Germans from dealing with the Lebanese movement’s members or using its symbols.
Berlin has previously promised to take the step.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz welcomes the move as a “very important step and a significant moral move in the global war against terrorism.”
Katz says he is “confident” that many other Middle East governments are happy for the move, and urges similar steps by more European governments and the European Union.
As of 8 a.m., Israelis exercising outdoors are no longer barred from going more than 500 meters from their homes, and sports can be done freely, in accordance with a cabinet decision made earlier this week.
The restriction preventing citizens from going more than 100 meters from their homes except for essential activities is still in effect, however. It will likely be removed early next week, as police have said they cannot enforce it since many other restrictions have been eased.
Swimming in the sea and going to beaches is still prohibited, although that will be reexamined today.
The Ynet website reports that also to be discussed is reopening of movie theaters — with distance kept between viewers– and some hotels and guesthouses in a limited format.
The German government confirms it is banning all activities of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in Germany, branding it a Shiite terrorist organization.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer “has today banned the operation” of the terror group in Germany, his spokesman tweets on the ministry’s Twitter account, adding that raids are taking place in several places across the country.
“Even in times of crisis the rule of law is upheld,” the spokesman writes.
— with AFP
South Korea has reported four more cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the first time that its daily jump has been below five in about two months.
The Koreas Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a statement that the additional figures have taken the country’s total to 10,765 with 247 deaths. It says 9,059 of them have recovered and been released from quarantine.
It says the four new cases are all imported ones and that there have been no newly reported cases of local infections.
Local media says it’s the first time for South Korea to have no daily increase of local infections since February 15.
South Korea’s caseload has been slowing in recent weeks after it recorded hundreds of new cases every day between late February and early March.
South Korea has subsequently relaxed some of its social distancing guidelines. It is expected to ease up on more restrictions in the coming days if its caseload maintains a downward trend.
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approves the continued digital tracking of coronavirus carriers by the Shin Bet security service until next Tuesday at midnight.
The High Court of Justice earlier this week ruled that the tracking must stop by today unless the law is changed to enable that, rather than using emergency regulations without Knesset oversight.
But the Knesset is giving the government extra time to decide whether it wants to legislate the matter. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to lead a discussion Sunday on whether to begin the legislative process or give up digital tracking.
An 83-year-old man died overnight from COVID-19 at Laniado Medical Center in Netanya, the hospital says.
The resident of the Sharon region north of Tel Aviv has preexisting health problems, it says in a statement.
The news takes Israel’s death toll from the coronavirus to 216.
Debris from a missing Canadian helicopter taking part in a NATO operation has been found in the Ionian Sea between Greece and Italy, a Greek military source says.
“Debris has been found in Italy’s zone of control and intervention” in the Ionian Sea, the source tells AFP. “Greece has sent a marine helicopter to participate in the rescue operation.”
The Health Ministry says there are now 15,870 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, 88 more than 24 hours ago, continuing a downward trend in new infections.
The death toll is up to 219, four more than last night’s tally.
The ministry says 117 Israelis are in serious condition, including 85 on ventilators, and 79 are in moderate condition.
The number of people who have recovered from the virus is 8,412, an increase of 483 over the last 24 hours.
Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Minister Yoav Gallant, a former army general and a member of the security cabinet, confirms there are initial negotiations with the Hamas terror group for a prisoner swap deal.
Speaking to the Kan public broadcaster in a radio interview, Gallant says matters are advancing quicker than they have been for a long time, although he cautioned against high expectations at this stage.
Kan also reports that ministers have been updated about the talks to aimed at freeing civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham a-Sayed and retrieving the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.
It cites sources with knowledge of the situation saying Israel is refusing to sign a two-phase deal and wants to release the civilians and the soldiers’ bodies together. Jerusalem is offering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and the advancement of economical projects.
An Israeli man living in the United States has reportedly duped New York State out of $69 million after promising to supply ventilators and then not providing them, Buzzfeed reports.
Yaron Oren-Pines, a Silicon Valley electrical engineer with no medical experience, tweeted in reply to US President Donald Trump that “we can supply ICU ventilators” and added: “Have someone call me URGENT.”
Three days later, the report says, he had signed a contract to supply New York with 1,450 ventilators at $47,656 apiece, more than triple the standard price. No ventilators ever arrived.
The report cites an unnamed state official saying the contract was signed at the direct recommendation of the White House.
The contract has now been terminated, and the state is trying to recover the money it has paid.
Oren-Pines has refused to comment on the matter.
Three days after Yaron Oren-Pines sent this reply, New York paid him $69.1 million for 1,450 ventilators — an astonishing $47,656 per ventilator. Not a single ventilator ever arrived, the state since terminated the contract, and is now trying to recover its money pic.twitter.com/NscQxXZcoC
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) April 29, 2020
Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod is said to have closed its designated ward for coronavirus carriers, since there are no patients to be hospitalized there.
Hebrew-language media published a photo of a notice put up at the hospital saying the COVID-19 ward “is closed due to zero patients.”
The body of a Palestinian man in his 30s is found near the West Bank settlement of Itamar.
He is reportedly suspected to be part of a group that last Friday tried to steal some 50 cows next to the settlement.
They were caught in the act and fled after being pursued, and after several kilometers left the cows and escaped.
The body is found with no gunshot wounds or signs of violence, and the prevailing assessment is that he fell to his death while fleeing.
Nevertheless, the body has been taken to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute to determine the cause of death.
Europe’s major equity indices rally at the open as global investor sentiment is boosted by news of a possible breakthrough in testing for a coronavirus treatment.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index advances 0.6 percent to 6,149.95 points, Frankfurt’s DAX wins 1.1 percent 11,228.98 and the Paris CAC 40 adds 1.0 percent to 4,717.08, compared with the closing levels yesterday.
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, set to become defense minister and alternate prime minister in the upcoming government, welcomes Germany’s decision to designate Hezbollah a terror group and outlaw its activities.
I commend the German government's important decision to recognize Hezbollah as a terror organization in its entirety and to ban all of its activities in Germany. This is a significant step in the global fight against terrorism.
— בני גנץ – Benny Gantz (@gantzbe) April 30, 2020
One of the new coronavirus deaths is named as Sima Miara, 88, who died at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital.
Her family issues a statement mourning her as “an exemplary mother and grandmother.”
“Thanks for all the unconditional love and infinite providing and caring for her children and grandchildren,” it says.
Rambam Medical Center in Haifa reports an additional improvement in the condition of the 11-year-old girl who had been in serious condition with COVID-19.
The girl, named as Hadas Biton, has recovered from the virus but her heart was affected by the disease. She is no longer on a ventilator.
She has woken up, Channel 12 quotes her father, Eliyahu, as saying.
“She is returning to herself, it moved me to tears,” he says. “I hugged and kissed her, it was pure joy.”
A 16-year-old boy at the same hospital is still in serious condition, but is stable.
Coronavirus cases in Russia have surged past 100,000, the government says, with an increase of 7,099 confirmed infections in the last 24 hours.
Russia has so far recorded 106,498 cases and 1,073 deaths from the virus, the government’s coronavirus information site says in a daily update.
Dozens of right-wing activists stage a protest outside the Supreme Court, decrying what they call the “judicial dictatorship.” Counter-protesters from the “black flag” movement also demonstrate nearby.
The High Court is set to make a decision next week on whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can form a government, as well as on the legality of the coalition deal signed by Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.
“Did anyone elect [Chief Justice] Esther Hayut?” call the right-wing protesters. “The people are sovereign.”
הפגנת ארגוני הימין מול בית המשפט העליון: ״מישהו פה בחר באסתר חיות? העם הוא הריבון!״
— אילת כהנא – ayelet kahana (@ayeletkahana) April 30, 2020
The approximately 100 left-wing demonstrators, keeping a distance of two meters from each other in line with social distancing regulations, denounce the “calls to destroy the Supreme Court.”
They call for protecting the court and democracy from right-wing “incitement.”
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid issues an English-language explanation of his remark earlier this week vowing to cooperate with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if he will want to join forces to topple the government and thwart Benny Gantz being tapped as premier in 18 months.
In a Facebook post, Lapid says this doesn’t mean he is now supporting Netanyahu. He says it only means he is willing to collaborate with anyone to prevent or reverse law changes currently being pushed to implement the coalition deal and the power-sharing agreement.
He says those changes are “trampling over” the Knesset, the Supreme Court and “all the basic principles.”
“When the coronavirus crisis is behind us, if we can bring down this corrupt government that is exactly what we will do,” Lapid says — including cooperating with Netanyahu.
For anyone who didn’t understand – we will do everything to bring down Netanyahu’s government and of course we won’t…
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas explains the decision today to outlaw the Hezbollah terror group, including its political wing.
According to a tweet by Germany’s Foreign Ministry, Maas has said the Lebanese Shiite movement “denies Israel’s right to exist, threatens with violence and terror and massively upgrades its rocket arsenal.”
FM @HeikoMaas: #Hezbollah denies Israel's right to exist, threatens with violence and terror and massively upgrades its rocket arsenal. It is important that Germany exhausts the means of the rule of law to take action against criminal and terrorist activities of Hezbollah.
— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) April 30, 2020
The High Court of Justice issues a temporary injunction preventing a three-month extension of acting State Attorney Dan Eldad’s tenure.
The decision is in effect until a final decision will be made.
The ruling comes amid an unprecedented quarrel between Eldad and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who is reportedly convinced Eldad and Justice Minister Amir Ohana are bent on ousting him from his post, possibly with the help of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Eldad was appointed interim state prosecutor for a three-month period by Ohana. Mandelblit initially opposed Eldad’s appointment, which Ohana made in spite of his reservations, but eventually acceded to it.
Eldad’s appointment is to expire tomorrow, but Ohana decided earlier this month to extend it by an additional three months since a new government has not yet been formed. Mandelblit is said to oppose the extension.
In a ruling with potential dramatic ramifications for observant Jews, the High Court of Justice rules that hospitals cannot prevent people from bringing their own food into their premises during the Passover festival.
The ruling says guards cannot search the belongings of visitors or make any remark or issue any order to them about bringing in food that isn’t kosher for Passover.
Religious Jews are forbidden from consuming — or owning — leavened wheat products, or hametz, during Passover. They generally avoid public places where such food may be found during the week-long holiday.
But avoiding hospitals is impossible for those requiring treatment, and the move is likely to draw significant backlash from religious leaders.
Spain counts another 268 people who have died from the coronavirus, the lowest daily number since March 20 as the country prepares to ease its tough lockdown measures.
The figures from the health ministry bring the total number of deaths from the pandemic in Spain to 24,543 — the fourth-highest after the United States, Italy and Britain.
Iran’s health ministry says 71 new fatalities from the novel coronavirus have taken the country’s overall death toll past the 6,000 mark.
“The number of deaths from this disease effectively crossed 6,000 today,” ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour says in televised remarks.
“Considering that we lost 71 of our countrymen in the past 24 hours, a total of 6,028 of those infected with COVID-19 have passed away to date,” he adds.
A High Court ruling barring hospitals from preventing visitors bringing their own food into their premises during the Passover festival draws immediate rebuke from religious and ultra-Orthodox politicians, and praise from more liberal MKs and groups.
The United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party announces that due to the ruling, it will support an “override clause” to allow the Knesset to overrule the country’s top court in some circumstances, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies have been pushing.
“The judges are extremely insolent,” says UTJ MK Moshe Gafni. “What we legislators do with countless discussions and four plenum readings, they cancel with a single decision that lacks all logic, ruling according to their worldview without regard for anything else. We should end this.”
Other UTJ members issue similar statements, with MK Uri Maklev saying the court “is hurting patients who are careful about hametz on Passover, as are most Israeli citizens.
“The judges aren’t respecting hospitals as public places where the feelings of all populations should be considered. The court, with a series of recent foreknown rulings, is rushing toward blowing up relations between different parts of society and is doing everything to replace the leadership,” Maklev adds.
“The High Court is again showing it is completely disconnected from the people,” said MK Michael Malchieli of fellow ultra-Orthodox party Shas.
MK Tamar Zandberg from the left-wing Meretz party welcomed the ruling, saying the court “did justice against religious coercion and stopped a disgraceful practice at hospitals. A hametz police has no place in hospitals or anywhere else.”
Secular rights group Be Free Israel and liberal religious Zionist organization Torah Vaavoda, which both joined the petition against the practice, also praise the ruling in a rare joint statement.
“There is a clear statement by the High Court here that the solution must come not by coercion, but through agreement and negotiation,” they say, calling on hospitals to adopt a system in which visitors will be asked not to use hospital utensils to consume their own food and use either their own or single-use utensils.
US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, welcomes Berlin’s recognition of Hezbollah as a terror group and calls on “all European Union member states to take similar action.”
Most European nations blacklist just the military wing of the Lebanese extremist organization, while tolerating its influential political wing. Germany changed that stance this morning, outlawing the group in its entirety as well as any use of its symbols.
— with AFP
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit tells the High Court of Justice he sees no legal impediment to have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tasked with forming the government.
The court is set to issue a ruling on a petition on the matter next week.
A High Court decision passed in the 1990s bars ministers from serving if they are under criminal indictment, but the law and previous rulings say nothing about a prime minister. The petition urges judges to rule that an indicted politician cannot serve as prime minister.
Netanyahu is indicted in three corruption cases, including bribery in one of them.
Mandelblit also tells the court that despite “significant legal difficulties,” he also thinks the coalition agreement signed by Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz should not be altered despite requiring far-reaching law changes, including to quasi-constitutional Basic Laws.
Israel provided intelligence that helped Germany make the decision outlawing the Lebanese terror group, the Kan public broadcaster reports, without citing a source.
The report says officials in Israel were notified of the impending decision several days ahead of time, including of the planned arrest campaign of group members.
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel criticizes Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit for telling the High Court there is no legal impediment to Benjamin Netanyahu forming the government and continuing as prime minister despite his criminal indictments.
“Mandelblit is hiding behind vague words and legitimizing corruption,” the group says in a statement. “We are saddened by the weak response by the person in charge of keeping the law.
“We are sure the court will intervene and show a red card to a criminal defendant forming the government.”
The proposed law to anchor rotating premiership agreements to share the leadership passes its first reading in the Knesset plenum.
The law — pushed by the Likud and Blue and White parties, which signed a coalition agreement that says the law will be changed to accommodate such a mechanism — passes with 72 supporting it and 31 opposing.
The bill still need to pass two more readings. It will first be discussed at a special Knesset committee headed by Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg.
Germany is poised to reopen synagogues, churches, mosques for religious services, but under stringent conditions to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus, according to a government source.
The number of participants will be limited and attendees will have to keep a distance from each other, according to a plan to be approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel and premiers of Germany’s 16 states when they hold a conference later today.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ended a discussion with health and other officials regarding restrictions on coronavirus hotspots, and intends to announce lockdown measures in three Jerusalem neighborhoods as well two neighborhoods in the Bedouin town of Hura, near Beersheba, Channel 12 reports.
Hura has had at least 30 new infections in the last three days, according to Health Ministry statistics, becoming the second-highest Israeli community in virus cases per capita.
The report says the government will ease restrictions in the city of Netivot and the Menuha Venahala neighborhood in Beit Shemesh, after the outbreaks there were put under control. However, the Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet neighborhood will remain under lockdown.
The report says ministers will vote on a proposal to give special aid to a Bedouin neighborhood in the Arab city of Taibe.
Meanwhile, daycare centers and private kindergartens will likely not be opened on Sunday after the organizations running them asked for more time for preparations, the report says.
A 40-year-old man attempted to stab a policeman and was shot by him in the central Israeli city of Rosh Haayin, authorities say.
According to police, the incident is not terror related.
The suspect suffered “very serious” wounds, according to police. A media report lists his condition as critical. The policeman is listed in light condition.
The policeman had been responding to reports of a violent incident in the city when the attack occurred, according to police.
Arab League foreign ministers are vowing to support “by all political, diplomatic, legal and financial means” any steps taken the Palestinian Authority to confront Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
A draft resolution forwarded at an emergency meeting on the subject refers to the the move as a “war crime,” and calls on the US to refrain from supporting the move.
A coalition deal between Likud and Blue and White allows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to begin pushing legislation to begin annexing settlement and the Jordan Valley starting July 1, under the aegis of the White House peace plan released earlier this year.
— with Jacob Magid
Police sappers have been called to the city of Sderot, where an unexploded rocket was found near a home, according to a report by Ynet.
The rocket was apparently fired during an earlier round of fighting, but not located until now.
The Emory University medical school doctor leading the remdesivir drug trials says the drug provides a “glimmer of hope” for coronavirus treatment.
Aneesh Mehta says on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “we are looking to find a medication that helps patients get better more rapidly, get them home to their families and make more room for other patients for us to take care of.”
He adds: “I think now we have the first glimmer of hope of something that can do that.”
Mehta cautions that the remdesivir data is “very preliminary.” He says most antivirals tend to work better earlier in the course of disease.
He adds that his team is working with the National Institutes of Health to adapt the clinical trial to look at other medications in combination with remdesivir.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is praising Germany for its decision to blacklist the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group.
Netanyahu lists a number of other Western powers which have also outlawed the group, and calls on more to follow suit.
“Any country advocating peace needs to expel terror groups and not give them any direct or indirect support,” he says in a statement released by his office.
A farmer who had been tending his lands in the Tzofar enclave inside Jordan says the last growers have left the area, likely for the last time.
Jordan in November ended two leases for Israeli farmers to work lands several kilometers over the border, but extended access for farmers in the Tzofar enclave south of the Dead Sea until April 30.
Erez Gibori tells AFP that the last farmers, who had grown peppers in the enclave, have now left it.
Gibori says that Jordan’s decision to take back the lands went “against the spirit of the peace agreement.”
US intelligence agencies have concluded that the new coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified” but say they are still examining whether the origins of the pandemic trace to contact with infected animals or an accident at a Chinese lab.
The statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of US spy agencies, comes as US President Donald Trump and his allies have touted the as-yet-unproven theory that an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak, was the source of the global pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 worldwide.
“The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” says the statement. “The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
China earlier said any claims that the coronavirus was released from a laboratory are “unfounded and purely fabricated out of nothing.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the Wuhan Institute of Virology at the center of the allegations “does not have the ability to design and create a new coronavirus, and it has never done so.”
Geng cited the institute’s director, Yuan Zhiming, as saying the lab strictly implements bio-security procedures that would prevent the release of any pathogen.
“I would like to point out again that the origin of the virus is a complex scientific issue, and it should be studied by scientists and professionals,” Geng said.
Geng also criticized US politicians who have suggested China should be held accountable for the global pandemic, saying they should spend their time on “better controlling the epidemic situation at home.”
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is doubling down on her position that Palestine is a state in the sense that it can transfer criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague.
The move potentially paves the way for war crimes probes against Israel and Palestinian groups for suspected acts committed in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Fatou Bensouda’s view is published in 60-page paper minutes before her 4 p.m. (Hague time) elapsed.
“The Prosecution has carefully considered the observations of the participants and remains of the view that the Court has jurisdiction over the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” she writes.
It is now up to a pre-trial chamber to rule on the matter. The three judges of this chamber — Péter Kovács of Hungary, Marc Perrin de Brichambaut of France and Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou of Benin — have no set deadline to hand down their decision but are expected to do so within 120 days.
— Raphael Ahren
A Rosh Haayin man shot by police during a stabbing attack has died, according to media reports.
The man, who turned 30 Thursday, had suffered from mental illness and his family had appealed in recent days for help from police, but were told nothing could be done if he was not committing a crime, the Ynet website reports.
His father says he had threatened to hurt animals earlier in the day, and when the police officer showed up the man initially left, but saw the officer arguing with his sister and then lunged at him with a knife. He accuses the police officer of emptying his whole cartridge into his son, rather than just disabling him with a shot to the leg.
A video appears to show the officer shooting several bullets at the man. (Warning: Graphic)
— Local Focus – Security Alerts (@LocalFocus1) April 30, 2020
The man’s mother tells the news site she had been given the runaround by various welfare services while seeking help for her son. “Nobody cares,” she charges.
There is no immediate response from police or welfare authorities.
Speculation is ramping up that kindergartens and daycares will not open as planned on Sunday.
In a conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several ministers, Health Ministry director Moshe Bar Siman-Tov recommends that only elementary school grades 1-3 be opened on Sunday, Ynet reports.
It says Netanyahu backed Siman-Tov, though other ministers did not.
According to Channel 12 news, Siman-Tov based his opposition on the experience of other countries, and the fact that it would be impossible to cap groups of children at 15 apiece.
Haaretz reports that the Welfare Ministry, which oversees daycares for younger children, told an inter-ministerial meeting that it would be impossible to open facilities on Sunday because there was not enough time to prepare.
A final decision is expected to be made at a cabinet meeting scheduled for Friday late morning.
The High Court of Justice says it will hear a series of petitions filed against a Likud-Blue and White coalition deal in a marathon two-day session next week, which will be televised live.
The full bench of 11 judges will be on hand to hear the petitions against the nascent power-sharing deal.
The hearings will start at 10 a.m. on Sunday and continue the next day at the same time, the court says. No end time is given for the hearings.
Ministers have reportedly approved a proposal to put curfews in place in two Jerusalem neighborhoods and parts of Beit Shemesh, as well as put some areas of the Bedouin city of Hura on lockdown, amid continuing high infection numbers.
There is no official statement from government authorities on the closures, which are set to go into effect at 11 p.m. tonight according to the unsourced Hebrew-language reports.
The government has been consistently criticized for failing to issue clear and timely instructions to the public, doling out information piecemeal, haphazardly or through media leaks.
The US’s top infectious diseases expert says he expects the Food and Drug Administration to quickly approve remdesivir after it showed promising signs in treating patients with COVID-19.
Anthony Fauci tells NBC’s “Today” show Thursday that he anticipates the go-ahead for the emergency use of remdesivir to happen “really quickly.”
He says he spoke with FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on Wednesday, and while Hahn had yet to make a final decision, “I would project that we’re going to be seeing that reasonably soon.” The drug was shown in a major study to shorten recovery time of hospitalized patients.
Fauci said the drug’s manufacturer has committed to scaling production of the drug as quickly as possible as the world hunts for an effective treatment and ultimately a vaccine.
Fauci has been working on a project to fast track the development of a vaccine by mass producing formulas that appear safe and effective before they’re fully vetted. The goal is to get hundreds of millions of doses to the public by January.
The National Library of Israel announces its unveiling of “Ramadan Nights from Jerusalem,” a collaborative initiative allowing Muslims and others to virtually gather to mark the Muslim holy month.
“Ramadan Nights from Jerusalem” seeks to expand awareness about Muslim culture and Ramadan in particular and provides programs for those unable to participate in traditional prayers, family gatherings and public events, the National Library says in a statement.
Events will be live-streamed, recorded and subsequently available on demand throughout the month of Ramadan, which began last week. Held in either Arabic, Hebrew or English, they will include lectures and virtual tours related to Islamic culture and history, traditional Muslim recitations and prayers, intimate conversations in Jerusalem homes, musical performances, culinary workshops and special programs for children.
“While the unprecedented restrictions lend the project additional significance this year, we look forward to making it into an annual occurrence, bringing together people and institutions from Jerusalem and beyond to expand awareness and appreciation for Muslim culture,” says Islam and Middle East Collection curator Raquel Ukeles, who co-organized the initiative.
— Jacob Magid
In a statement carried by several Hebrew-language media outlets, a senior Health Ministry source says kindergartens should not be open for another week or two, but elementary schools up to third grade can begin bringing back students on Sunday.
“We’ve seen great results on the national infection map, and we can take this step and wait with kindergartens until the next round, when our [national] health will be a week or two along. The group that is safest to start with are first to third graders.”
Officials reportedly fear that young children will be unable to maintain necessary social distancing or hygiene standards, and keeping groups of 15 separate from each other will be difficult.
The Health Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office confirm plans to place curfews on the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Romema in Jerusalem and two areas of the Bedouin town of Hura, starting at 11 p.m. A lockdown on Ramat Beit Shemesh B will also be extended past Friday.
All three lockdowns will expire at midnight on May 3.
Ministers also decide to lift restriction on Netivot and two other neighborhoods in Beit Shemesh.
Yahya Hassan, a Danish poet of Palestinian descent who made headlines as a teenager in 2013 for a book that was critical of Muslims has died at 24, his publishing house says Thursday.
His editor at Gyldendal, Simon Paternak, calls Hassan’s death “a disaster.” The publishing house gave no further details. Although Hassan had received death threats, police say they did not immediately suspect a criminal act.
Hassan’s self-titled book has sold more than 120,000 copies since its publication. Most poetry books in Denmark sell fewer than 500 copies, according to the industry.
In his poetry, Hassan criticized what he claimed was a culture of hypocrisy underpinning Denmark’s Muslim population. He pointed to his Palestinian immigrant parents and their generation as the reason why he quit school and committed petty crimes.
A UN agency regulating air travel predicts 2020 will end with 1.5 billion fewer passengers flying the friendly skies due to the coronavirus outbreak walloping the industry.
The International Civil Aviation Organization also predicts a $273 billion loss for carriers worldwide, with Europe alone accounting for over $100 million in lost revenue.
The numbers, which are calculated versus baseline predictions in which no coronavirus crisis would have occurred, are based on a worst case scenario in which global recovery is sluggish.
Thousands of small business owners and self-employed workers are gathering in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to rally for increased government help and eased restrictions to allow them to return to work, Channel 12 news reports.
Police are attempting to enforce social distancing regulations in the square, which has seen other demonstrations where protesters kept several feet between each other.
הפגנה של העצמאים ועומדים במרחק אחד מהשני pic.twitter.com/1Kd7Scxclh
— Dagan wald (@waldagan1) April 30, 2020
Ahead of the protest, Tel Aviv city hall put down place markers for people to use to keep distance, reading “preserving democracy, preserving health.”
מדהים: עיריית ת"א סמנה את כיכר רבין במדבקות כדי לאפשר הפגנות בהתאם להנחיות משרד הבריאות. על המדבקות נכתב: "שומרים על הדמוקרטיה- שומרים על הבריאות". בשבוע הבא תשכיר העירייה למעוניינים ערכת הפגנות הכוללת מערכת הגברת ניידת, מיקרופון, ופודיום נייד. @ynetalerts
צילום: דין אהרוני רולנד pic.twitter.com/jDr24EKNoX
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) April 30, 2020
Police are defending one of their own who shot to death an apparently mentally ill man after attacking an officer with a knife.
A statement says a preliminary investigation shows the officer “acted as expected, given the clear and present danger to his life he was in.”
In the same breath, it also advises the public from drawing conclusions before an internal investigation is completed.
Shay Levi, a former police detective, also defends the cop, tells Army Radio that he “sees no other way it could have ended.”
A (graphic) video shows the officer unload several bullets into the suspect during the attack.
Video from the stabbing in Rosh Haaayin today, policeman who was lightly wounded shot the attacker dead.
Family called the police beforehand and said that the man was walking around with a knife. pic.twitter.com/tQ0ETVi1co
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) April 30, 2020
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is calling a group of so-called black-flag protesters who rallied outside the Supreme Court earlier Thursday “reminiscent of fascists.”
The protesters were rallying against a coalition deal that would allow Netanyahu to retain power despite indictments against him and which will necessitate wide-ranging changes to Israel’s constitutional Basic Laws being rewritten in a matter of days, with almost no public input.
“The bullying protesters of the far left in black shirts and making battle cries are reminiscent of fascist protests in every way,” the Likud spokesperson says.
The protesters had stood in neat rows to keep distance from each other under social distancing guidelines enacted by Netanyahu’s government.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin says he tested positive for coronavirus and will self-isolate to protect other cabinet members.
“I have just learned that the test on the coronavirus I took was positive,” Mishustin says in a video meeting with President Vladimir Putin, suggesting a deputy takes his place while he self-isolates.
Nine European ambassadors have warned Israel of severe consequences if it moves ahead with plans to annex large parts of the West Bank as part of a government coalition deal, Channel 13 news reports.
The ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, The Netherlands, Belgium and the EU tell an Israeli diplomat in charge of Europe that pushing ahead with annexation would break international law and will destabilize the region as well as hurt Israel’s international standing, according to the report.
They saw they are worried by the power-sharing deal between Likud and Blue and White, which paves the way for the annexation.
The meeting takes place via videoconference.
The Health Ministry says three more people have died of the coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 222.
It says there are 15,946 confirmed infections, with 112 cases in the past 24 hours. However, it also says that 328 people recovered over the last 24 hours, as a hopeful trend showing Israel pulling itself out of the crisis continues.
A total of 105 people are in serious condition, including 82 people on ventilators.
Israel’s Bank Hapoalim has agreed to pay over $30 million for its role in a bribery scheme involving world soccer officials, the US Justice Department says.
The bank has admitted helping launder some $20 million in bribes and kickbacks to FIFA soccer officials, as part of a massive conspiracy.
“This announcement illustrates another aspect in the spider web of bribery, corruption and backroom deals going on behind the scenes as soccer games were played on the field,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney says in a statement. “Bank Hapoalim admits executives looked the other way, and allowed illicit activity to continue even when employees discovered the scheme and reported it.”
The bank will forfeit $20.7 million and pay a fine of $9.3 million, the US says.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the UK is “past the peak” and “on a downward slope” in its coronavirus outbreak.
In his first news conference in more than a month following his hospitalization with COVID-19 and his subsequent recuperation, Johnson says he would be presenting a “comprehensive plan” next week about how and when the UK will ease the lockdown restrictions, which are due to last at least until May 7.
Though he said it would provide a “roadmap,” Johnson is widely expected to extend the current lockdown further.
Johnson also voices frustrations in getting personal protective equipment, and in ramping up the testing program, but he insisted that the government was throwing “everything at it, heart and soul, night and day, to get it right.”
Johnson, whose partner Carrie Symonds gave birth to a boy on Wednesday, says another 674 people with the coronavirus have died in all settings, taking the total to 26,711, the second highest in Europe behind Italy.
The Health Ministry has released an epidemiological study that will be used to determine whether daycares, kindergartens and schools are given the final go ahead to open tomorrow.
The study, which tracked the spread of the virus in hundreds of families of various sizes in Bnei Brak, finds that children have a lower chance of getting sick, but can still carry the coronavirus and transmit it, though the authors admit the findings are preliminary.
It finds that children under 10 transmit the disease 20-40 percent of the rate that adults do, while those between 10 and 20 transmit it 30-50% of the adult rate.
It says the chances of transmission rise with age, though those under a year can also be highly contagious.
“We recommend that decision-makers act with an abundance of caution and only open schools and return students gradually,” write the authors of the study, of the Gertner Research Institute at Tel Hashomer Hospital.
The authors suggest having a system in place to closely monitor schools, including taking steps if infections are found among students and comprehensive randomized testing.
South African activist Denis Goldberg, one of Nelson Mandela’s closest colleagues in the struggle against apartheid, has died aged 87, his foundation announces.
Tributes have poured in from all sectors of society, many acknowledging Goldberg’s humanity and fight for justice.
Goldberg was among the African National Congress leaders and others sentenced to jail for sabotage along with Mandela in what became known as the Rivonia treason trial.
He was the only white man among many 150 people arrested in a police raid on their hideout in Rivonia, north of Johannesburg, in 1963.
“Somehow I understood that what was happening in South Africa with its racism was like the racism in Nazi Germany that we were supposed to be fighting against,” Goldberg, who was Jewish, said last year. “You have to be involved one way or another. That’s what I grew up with.”
The Transportation Ministry plans on restarting train service on May 16, according to Hebrew media reports.
Passenger railroad service will ramp up gradually, and only go ahead with approval from the Health Ministry, according to the reports. Passengers will be required to keep social distancing regulations and wear masks.
The city of Tel Aviv is also planning for the months ahead when bars and restaurants may finally be okayed to reopen. According to Channel 12 news, part of the plan will involve allowing them to encroach further on sidewalks and public rights of way in order to make sure there is enough room between tables.
President Reuven Rivlin is looking into ways to lower or even dismiss fines handed out to people for coronavirus violations, Channel 12 news reports.
Some 55,000 citations have been handed out in the last several weeks, from not wearing a mask or being more than 100 meters from home to breaking quarantine or isolation orders. The fines range in price from NIS 200 to NIS 5,000.
According to the channel, several people have turned to Rivlin for help in getting the fines dismissed, leading his office to seek possible ways to help people get out of paying.
Among the options being discussed are the creation of a mechanism with the police and Justice Ministry that would set clear criteria of ways people can lower the amount they have to pay or have the tickets dismissed altogether.
All Reform Jewish summer camps will remain closed for the 2020 summer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has learned.
The landmark decision, made Thursday afternoon, will affect 15 overnight camps across the country, which collectively served some 10,000 campers in 2019. The Reform movement, the largest in the United States, is the first to suspend its entire summer camp network. It’s the first time in more than 70 years that the movement is suspending its camps.
The movement is also canceling all of its trips to Israel and other locations, as well as all in-person youth activities. A statement from the Union for Reform Judaism said that if it ends up becoming possible to open the camps, “doing so will be our top priority.”
“After months of carefully following and evaluating the evolving COVID-19 situation, the URJ has reached the heartbreaking, difficult, and values-based decision to cancel all in-person activities this summer,” reads the statement. “Although we have continued to plan, prepare, pray, and hope for another transformative summer, the risks posed by COVID-19 threaten our most sacred values: the health and well-being of our children, staff, and faculty that attend camp, along with their communities back home.”
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz is accusing International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of being biased against Israel and skewing international law to serve the interests of the pro-Palestinian community.
Bensouda earlier Thursday doubled down on her assertion that the “State of Palestine” has jurisdiction over the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza to have Israel prosecuted for possible war crimes committed there.
Steinitz accuses her of being “influenced by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the global BDS movement.”
“The Prosecutor’s disregard for the opinions of many of the world’s leading experts on international law points to her determination to harm the State of Israel and tarnish its name. In the name of this objective she has reformulated the rules of international law, inventing a Palestinian state while the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has yet to be concluded.”
Bensouda’s initial announcement of a possible war crimes probe sparked angry denunciations of her in Jerusalem, including accusations of her as anti-Semitic, and a coordinated Hebrew media push to portray her as a helpmate to former Gambian strongman Yahya Jammeh.
A US military hospital ship has left New York after a month in the city as coronavirus cases in America’s epicenter continue to decline.
The USNS Comfort sailed out of a Manhattan pier shortly after midday in a low-key departure that contrasted sharply with the fanfare of its arrival.
The 894-foot-long (272-meter-long) vessel was welcomed by cheering crowds when it arrived on March 30 to help ease the burden on hospitals slammed with coronavirus cases.
But just a few hardy souls braved heavy rain to bid farewell to the white and red behemoth as it began its journey back to a US naval base in Norfolk, Virginia.
Over 17,800 people have died in New York City and over 170,000 cqases have been recorded there.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says 306 people died of the virus in New York over the last day, the lowest single day total since late March, according to the New York Times.
Contrasting that, New Jersey’s governor Philip Murphy reports 460 deaths there, it’s highest single day total.
— with AFP
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