April 1, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Syria Says Israeli Airstrikes Targeted Homs Province (Anadolu-Hurriyet-Turkey)
    Syria's SANA news agency said: "At 20:25 on March 31, Israeli warplanes launched a number of missiles, from over Lebanon, into the direction of eastern Homs.
    Iran-backed terror groups and Hizbullah are stationed alongside regime forces in Homs. Israel has launched many airstrikes on Syrian military sites and Iranian-backed groups.

Hamas Says It Has Detained Israel Spies in Gaza (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    The internal security apparatus of Hamas in Gaza said Tuesday it had arrested a number of collaborators with Israel.

Israeli Health Ministry Asks Public to Wear Protective Masks when Leaving Home - Adir Yanko (Ynet News)
    Israeli Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov said Tuesday: "Several countries, including us, decided to recommend that the public wear protective masks when leaving the house."
    "There is no hurry to head out and buy masks, you can improvise at home. You can cover your face with a piece of cloth, for example."
    See also Israel to Produce 35 Million Face Masks (Jerusalem Post)
    The Sion company in Sderot will produce 35 million face masks for the Defense Ministry.
    11 million masks will be produced by the end of April and 5.5 million N95 masks will be produced as well.
    The Defense Ministry helped import a special machine to make production of the advanced masks possible.

Treatments for the Coronavirus Are Being Developed by Hebrew University - Celia Jean (Jerusalem Post)
    A variety of treatments to combat the coronavirus have been developed, and are continuously being explored, by research teams at Hebrew University and start-up companies belonging to Yissum, HU's technology transfer company.
    "Among the early stage technologies currently being developed are creative ideas spanning drug discovery, MedTech and medical equipment as well as systems to better diagnose and treat coronavirus," said Dr. Itzik Goldwaser, CEO of Yissum.
    "Our researchers have proposed a large number of ideas that include re-purposing current drug treatments, face masks that can actively kill the Covid-19 virus, and even plant-based diagnostic tools and treatments."

Israel Develops 3D-Printed Sticker to Improve Mask Protection (Xinhua-China)
    Israeli researchers from the Technion and the National Coronavirus Technology Center at the Israel Ministry of Defense have developed a unique sticker attached to standard surgical masks for the protection of hospital medical staff from the coronavirus, the Technion said Tuesday.
    Made with 3D printing technology, the sticker consists of nanometric fibers coated with disinfectants.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Raises $5 Billion in Record Bond Issue to Help Cope with Coronavirus Outbreak - Steven Scheer
    Israel sold $1 billion of 100-year bonds in international markets as part of a record $5 billion fundraising to finance government aid to help the Israeli economy cope with the coronavirus outbreak. Israel also sold $2 billion of 10-year debt and $2 billion of 30-year bonds.
        Demand for the bonds topped $25 billion and the sale attracted more than 400 investors from 40 countries, the Finance Ministry said. Deputy Accountant General Gil Cohen said the ability to conduct a successful sale during high volatility in the markets reflected Israel's economic strength. (Reuters)
  • Inside an Israeli Coronavirus Ward - Hillel Kuttler
    The arrangement at the Galilee Medical Center in the northern Israel town of Nahariya typifies the refitting of 37 existing wards throughout Israel, including in two psychiatric hospitals, with Covid-19 departments. For physicians and nurses at the Nahariya hospital, nearly all of their communication with patients occurs through a window, using an intercom. Patients are instructed in taking their own pulse, blood pressure, and temperature.
        If they can't manage those tasks or are in any distress, the medical professionals don their protective garb and enter the Red Zone. Meals are conveyed through slots that must be closed by the initiating person before the receiving person gains access. In a control room, staff members monitor every bed, 24 hours a day, on multiple screens of closed-circuit television.
        In designing its Covid-19 departments, Israel placed a high priority on protecting caregivers, said Avi Ben Zaken of the Ministry of Health. Israeli officials were alarmed at the number of medical professionals in China, South Korea, and Italy debilitated and even killed by the disease while delivering care, he said. (Tablet)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Coronavirus Count Reaches 5,591, Death Toll Is 21 - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
    Overnight Monday and on Tuesday, 6 more Israelis succumbed to the virus, bringing the death toll to 21. All had multiple preexisting conditions. As of Wednesday morning, the number of patients who had been diagnosed with coronavirus was 5,591. 97 are in serious condition and 76 are intubated. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 8 Drive-Through Coronavirus Testing Centers Operating in Israel
    Magen David Adom is operating 8 drive-through coronavirus testing centers in Israel, allowing those who need to get tested to do so while sitting in their car. Centers in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Arara and Bnei Brak were joined on Wednesday by new centers in Ashdod and Rahat, Channel 12 news reported. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also How One Haredi Community Halted the Spread of the Coronavirus - Dan Zaken (Globes)
  • PA Policemen Enter East Jerusalem Village to Halt Armed Clashes - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Israel has temporarily permitted Palestinian Authority policemen to operate in some east Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the security barrier to stem increased lawlessness and anarchy. PA security officials said a special anti-riot force has been dispatched to Kafr Akab, north of Jerusalem, where armed clashes erupted on Monday between local residents and activists from nearby Kalandiya. A Kafr Akab resident was seriously injured during an exchange of gunfire which lasted for several hours.
        Local residents say armed gangs and Palestinian groups impose a reign of terror and intimidation. Palestinians from Kalandiya sought to block the entrances to Kafr Akab to prevent residents from leaving after at least two of its residents were diagnosed with coronavirus. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • A Nurse on the Frontlines of Covid-19 in New York - Blimi Marcus
    Today, I downloaded Vidui, the Jewish deathbed prayer, because we have some patients who may reach that point, and they reach it rapidly and unexpectedly, and family is not allowed to be there, and nurses are stepping in to say the Shema prayer with the patients. Today, I had a conversation with a 60-year-old patient, her son, and their rabbi, to determine end-of-life decisions as she neared intubation. She kept blinking away tears, but nodded at me to continue, saying, "This is important."
        And today, I comforted and cried with multiple community members as they called me throughout the day as loved ones died, age 39, age 42, age 50. I guided them on how to attend funerals (N95 mask, gloves, and 20 feet away from others). The writer is a nurse practitioner at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. (Times of Israel)
  • Qatar's State-of-the-Art Foreign Lobbying Campaign - Lee Smith
    Over the past decade, Qatar, with a population of little more than 300,000 native Qataris, has implemented the single most sophisticated, sustained, successful effort by any foreign nation or interest group to shape Western policymaking - especially American opinion - in its favor.
        The amount of money that Qatar has poured into local governments, universities, schools, educational organizations, think tanks, and media across America, and the number of initiatives, like the anti-Israel BDS movement, that Qatar uses to influence American opinion, is nearly overwhelming. The country gave more than $1 billion to U.S. universities between 2011-2017.
        "Qatar is a profoundly menacing influence to core U.S. interests," says a U.S. expert on Gulf affairs. "The issue is that they're structurally promiscuous - they're always trying to buy protection everywhere, that they give money to U.S. enemies - like the Muslim Brotherhood or Hizbullah or Hamas or the Nusra Front in Syria. The Qataris are supposed to be allies of the United States, yet they're funding and dealing with groups and countries that are inimical to American interests."  The writer is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. (Tablet)

The Coronavirus Is Absolutely No Excuse to Lift Sanctions on Iran - Mark Dubowitz and Richard Goldberg (Foreign Policy)
  • A chorus of Americans and Europeans are exploiting the coronavirus crisis in Iran to push the Trump administration to lift sanctions against Iran. This is fundamentally dishonest - the sanctions do not restrict medical supplies and other forms of humanitarian aid.
  • Iran's human rights record is one of the worst in the world. Last fall, the regime killed 1,500 people who peacefully protested the dictatorship's mishandling of the economy. Soon after, it blew a passenger airliner out of the sky, killing everyone on board.
  • A few weeks ago, Iranian-backed militias killed two U.S. and one British soldier in Iraq. Last week, we learned that Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent held by Iran, died in captivity. More Americans and other foreigners, arbitrarily detained and falsely accused of being spies, remain hostage in Iranian jails today.
  • Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has approved diverting billions of dollars from Iran's sovereign wealth fund over the last two years to finance terrorism, human rights abuses, and expanded nuclear activities. Yet when it comes to fighting a pandemic to save lives, there's allegedly no money to be found.
  • Sanctions relief would only make these challenges worse. So would a $5 billion International Monetary Fund bailout requested by Iran. Khamenei's nuclear program continues without delay. The regime hasn't stopped supporting terrorism or killing Americans. Concerns regarding money laundering, corruption, and diversion of humanitarian goods remain unresolved.
  • Putting money into the hands of this government will neither solve the pandemic in Iran nor improve global security. Sanctions relief for the regime should be a non-starter. The Iranian government is the problem, not U.S. sanctions.

    Mark Dubowitz is CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at FDD, was the U.S. National Security Council's Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction from 2019 to 2020.

        See also Lifting U.S. Sanctions Against Iran's Regime Won't Stop the Terrorism or Oppression - Clifford D. May
    Defenders of the Tehran regime continued to lament America's withdrawal from an agreement that enriched Iran's rulers, funded terrorism abroad and repression at home while, at best, delaying their entry into the nuclear weapons club. Now they say the Covid-19 pandemic makes it imperative that the U.S. lift sanctions and provide billions of dollars to Iran's theocrats.
        Yet Iran's Ministry of Health says it has no problem getting medicines and last week revoked the approval for Doctors Without Borders to build an intensive-care field hospital, saying Iran does "not need hospitals established by foreigners." The writer is founder and president of FDD. (Washington Times)