March 24, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Three Palestinians Arrested for Torching Refugee Camp on Greek Island - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    Greek authorities arrested three Palestinians for setting ablaze the Swiss-run One Happy Family community center at a refugee camp on the island of Lesbos earlier this month, Sto Nisis (On the Island) reported on Saturday.
    One Palestinian man, 59, has a Greek passport and lives in Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos. The two other Palestinians live in Athens and traveled to Mytilene.
    Police arrested the Palestinians after viewing CCTV video footage from nearby businesses.

A U.S. Victory in Lebanon - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    President Trump succeeded in pressuring the government of Lebanon to bring about the release of Amer Fakhoury, a U.S. citizen and former officer in the South Lebanese Army, despite Hizbullah's objections.
    His release is seen in Lebanon and the Arab world as an American victory over Lebanon and Hizbullah, and proving that the U.S. knows how to protect its citizens.
    See also Former Member of Israel-Backed Militia Killed in Lebanon after Colleague Escapes (AFP-Arab News-Saudi Arabia)

Israeli Medical Students Volunteer to Help Fight Against Coronavirus - Ruth Schuster (Ha'aretz)
    Students and faculty in science departments at Israeli universities are volunteering in droves to test people, conduct analyses of samples, and assist lab workers, paramedics and army teams.
    In addition, more than 2,000 students from Israel's medical schools have volunteered.
    Students are helping at drive-in, swab-sample collection stations, and are also on board ambulances and army vehicles traveling to collect samples from people quarantined or shut up at home.
    Shirel Argueti, who is pursuing a doctorate in physiology at Ben-Gurion University, said, we "decided to volunteer with pleasure. We aren't afraid. We know how to do the lab tests; we have good protective gear, we are young and we will be fine."

Israel Is 14th in World Happiness Survey (Times of Israel)
    Israel ranks 14th among 153 countries in the annual UN World Happiness Report published Friday.
    In a newly-added ranking of cities around the world, Tel Aviv was number 8.
    The report was based on data compiled before the coronavirus pandemic.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Khamenei's Lies about the Coronavirus Put Lives at Risk - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
    Facts matter. At least five foreign countries' first cases of coronavirus were directly imported from Iran. The Iranian regime ignored repeated warnings from its own health officials, and denied its first death from the coronavirus for at least nine days. The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world about the number of cases and deaths.
        As Iranian regime officials ask for more funds, it is important to note that since 2012, Iran has spent over $16 billion on terror abroad. Regime officials stole over a billion euros intended for medical supplies, and continue to hoard desperately needed masks, gloves, and other medical equipment for sale on the black market.
        U.S. sanctions do not target imports of food, medicine and medical equipment, or other humanitarian goods. Iranian documents show their health companies have been able to import testing kits without obstacle from U.S. sanctions since January. Iranian supreme leader Khamenei works tirelessly to concoct conspiracy theories and prioritizes ideology over the Iranian people. (U.S. State Department)
        See also Iran: Covid-19 Disinformation Fact Sheet (U.S. State Department)
  • Imam on Hamas TV: This Virus Is a Soldier of Allah; Muslims Are the Least Affected
    On March 20, 2020, Gazan Imam Jamil Al-Mutawa delivered a sermon broadcast on Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV, saying that COVID-19 is a "soldier" of Allah, which severely affected the U.S., Israel, Iran, Italy, and China, while leaving the Palestinians and Gazans unaffected. "Look how empty the [Israeli] cities are. Look how empty their streets are and look how crowded this mosque is." He prayed for Allah to continue unleashing the virus against the people behind the Deal of the Century. (MEMRI-TV)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Coronavirus Count Reaches 1,656
    1,656 people have tested positive for coronavirus by Tuesday morning, up by 418 from the previous day, the Israel Ministry of Health reported. 31 Israelis are in serious condition and over 40 are in moderate condition. The large number of new cases in part reflects increased testing, with drive-through test centers now open in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba. (Globes)
  • Israel Flying Israelis Home during Shutdowns - Israel Kasnett
    Earlier this week, 550 Israelis left India for Israel before the country was set to close its airspace. Lior Haiat, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman, told JNS: "We are helping Israelis from all over the world get back to Israel, especially from Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia. We are talking about 8,000 Israelis who are abroad and whom we are trying to bring back."
        Recently, 1,100 Israelis were airlifted out of Peru in four privately-funded El Al flights. "We are not planning any more free flights. The flights we are working on with El Al, Arkia and Israir will be paid for by the passengers," Haiat said. El Al is reportedly preparing flights to Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, and another to India and perhaps Thailand, to bring more Israeli travelers home. (JNS)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israeli Hospital Set Up Covid-19 Emergency Care Ward in 72 Hours - Amir Kurtz
    The Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer in the Tel Aviv area has prepared an isolated underground emergency care ward for critical Covid-19 cases in just 72 hours. The ward includes 45 beds for patients who will require ventilators and urgent care. The emergency hospital facility that has never been used before has a completely separate infrastructure for electricity, oxygen lines, monitors, and more. The hospital has also prepared and trained specialized teams with the required protective gear to treat coronavirus cases. (Calcalist)
  • Israeli Innovation Helps Fight Coronavirus Pandemic - Hagar Ravet
    Israeli medtech and biotech companies are working to find new solutions to the coronavirus challenge. Israeli-American RADLogics Inc. is a software analytics company that specializes in visual analysis of medical scans to detect early signs of lung cancer. Two months ago, RADLogics' products in China started revealing something small and patch-like in the lungs of patients, a phenomenon unique to coronavirus patients. It was also found in asymptomatic carriers. The company adjusted its products for the specific identification of coronavirus, and now it offers a new identification avenue that can provide results within seconds instead of hours.
        Tel Aviv-based Sight Diagnostics Ltd. developed a portable device that enables blood tests and blood counts with results in minutes rather than hours. Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer announced it will use the device to treat patients in isolation.
        Biopharmaceutical company Kamada Ltd. is collecting blood and plasma from Israelis who have recovered from the virus, and using a purification process to achieve a specific concentration of antibodies for treating serious coronavirus cases. This is not a vaccine, but rather an expensive, one-off treatment for severe cases.
        Israel-based EarlySense Ltd. has developed a non-invasive patient-monitoring system, placed under the mattress, that takes a patient's vitals around the clock, 100 times a minute, to identify changes in a patient's condition. It can also be used to track asymptomatic carriers in home-quarantine. (Calcalist)

Video: 5 Tips to Get Through the Coronavirus Quarantine - Natan Sharansky (Jewish Agency for Israel)
  • My name is Natan Sharansky. I was born in the Soviet Union and at the age of 29 I was arrested for my Zionist activity. I spent 9 years in prison, half of it in solitary confinement and 405 days in a punishment cell. So I have some experience of spending time in solitary confinement and I want to give you 5 tips to get through the quarantine.
  • Tip 1: In prison I always had to remind myself I am part of a huge, global battle. You also should remind yourself that we are at war with a very dangerous, though invisible, enemy. And whether we will succeed in the battle depends also on your behavior.
  • Tip 2: In prison, I didn't know when I will be released or if I will be released at all. Don't build your future plans based on the hope that in the next few days, or the next few weeks, it all will be finished. It does not depend on you. So try to build plans which fully depend on you.
  • Tip 3: Never give up your sense of humor. I remember how in prison I enjoyed telling anti-Soviet jokes to my prison guards.
  • Tip 4: Don't give up on your hobbies. I knew how to play chess without the board and in the punishment cell I could play thousands of games in my head. You can enjoy singing, playing music, drawing, or whatever you like to do.
  • Tip 5: Feel your connection. Remember that you are not alone. We Jews, for thousands of years, were scattered all over the world. But we always had this feeling that we are part of a great people, with our mutual past, with our mutual future, and with our mutual mission. Think about it. Feel your connection. Together we will succeed. Am Yisrael chai [The people of Israel live].

    Natan Sharansky, a former deputy prime minister and cabinet minister, served as Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel from 2009 to 2018. He is a recipient of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal (1986) and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom (2006) - the highest civilian awards in the U.S., as well as the 2018 Israel Prize for his lifetime achievements.