News Nosh 4.1.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday April 01, 2020
Quote of the day:
"A population that knows no science is not equipped to comprehend the threat of a virus. And a person who has never learned basic math cannot be expected to understand the graphs about flattening the curve."
--In a Haaretz+ Op-Ed, Jessica Apple blames the State of Israel for the high rate of the spread of coronavirus in the ultra-Orthodox community because it has allowed the community to forego basic education in the subjects that are crucial to understanding the threat of COVID-19.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
The websites of Israel's Social Security and its National Employment Service have no Arabic form to apply for unemployment benefits.*

Front Page:
  • Rate of spread decreases, but preparations for Passover could change the trend
  • Sayeret Matkal (commando unit) recruited to aid in process of testing
  • Lack of tests and sense of shame could severely harm the Arab sector
  • In Justice Ministry, they oppose Defense Minister Bennett’s initiative with (spy company) NSO and call it an exceptional step
  • Likud and Kahol-Lavan close to agreement: Appointment of judges will be done by mutual agreement
  • Researchers predict: At least 7 million people infected with coronavirus in Europe
  • Health Ministry team: Number of tests at old age homes and prisons must be increased
  • (Hungarian Prime Minister) Orban receieved free hand to continue to dismantle Hungarian democracy
  • In the hippy community, some need a hug now more than ever
  • Work schedule // Sami Peretz on the high number of ministers
  • Continuing to travel - In the midst of the corona crisis, transportation startup, Via, raised $400 million
  • National Insurance Institute (Social Security) expects 1.1 million demands for unemployment stipends in April and a budget hole of up to 38 billion shekels
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • (Bnei Brak,) city under siege
  • Target: Gradual return to normal after Passover
  • Heath Ministry acquired trial treatment
  • “Iran hiding, it has four times as many dead,” estimate Israeli sources
  • Chaos without a captain // Nadav Eyal
  • Guide: This is how you’ll get money from the state
  • Bnei Brak turned into a ghost town
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Haredim (pun meaning both ultra-Orthodox Jews and fearful) for their lives
  • Where will the money come from? // Yehuda Sharoni
  • The veto storm - Judicial and political sources expressed shock over Netanyahu’s plan to demand veto power over appointments of senior people in judicial system: These are people who will be dealing with his criminal indictments
  • Report in Syria: Israeli Air Force attacked military bases east of Homs
Israel Hayom
  • “Don’t be scared to come to the hospital”
  • Without a mother and a father, but not alone
  • The self-employed: “We expected more generous aid”
  • Working from home: In lightning procedure, MKs can do distance voting

Top News Summary:
Front page photos of police enforcing the movement restrictions on ultra-Orthodox men (only in Haaretz the main photo was of police blocking roads in Tel-Aviv), a plan to let young people out of self-quarantine and back to work after Passover, the heartbreaking deaths by coronavirus of two mothers, aged 49 and 50, and the stuck negotiations between Likud and Kahol-Lavan for establishing a unity government were the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Three disputes still stand in the way of a new government: Who will be the Knesset Speaker and the Minister of Justice and whether Israel will apply sovereignty over land in the West Bank (Kahol-Lavan and Labor disapprove). Kahol-Lavan insists that “Netanyahu needs to solve problems and disputes he has in the Likud and in the bloc and he is trying to exert pressure (on us) to help him.” (Yedioth Hebrew)

Settler leaders are concerned that the annexation plans that the US President approved may now be thwarted by a unity government and asked for an urgent video call with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to ascertain that annexation would be part of the government's basic lines. (Yedioth Hebrew)

Likud also reportedly demands that it has veto rights over senior judicial appointments. Maariv’s Ben Caspit reported that the political and legal officials say this is unreasonable in light of the fact that these are the people who will deal with Netanyahu’s criminal cases. Kahol-Lavan told Caspit: ”There will be another Likud minister to deal with this.”

Corona and Quickees:
Alongside shows of police enforcing health guidelines, what also became apparent was how much temporary Defense Minister Naftali Bennett was involving the military in trying to contain the coronavirus crisis. Alongside plans to deploy soldiers with police to enforce health restrictions, Israel’s most renowned military commando unit, Sayeret Matkal, was enlisted to resolve the failure in carrying out effective testing, Haaretz+ reported. According to people involved in the activities, the cooperation between the IDF and the Health Ministry is harmonious and smooth. Bennett is also leading an initiative to employ the infamous Israeli spyware company, NSO, ‘grade’ coronavirus cases, but Justice Ministry officials are not pleased with it, Haaretz+ reported. Bennett urged a quick end to the lockdown, saying Israel may have more suicides than virus deaths due to massive financial distress. The papers also reported on plans to gradually begin releasing some people from their homes and back to their jobs after Passover.
  • Coronavirus in Israel: 500 New Cases Confirmed as Total Surges Past 5,000, Over a Million Israelis Unemployed- Five fatalities in one day raise coronavirus death toll in Israel to 20. Nearly 100 patients on life support.(Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Needed: 2,163 respirators - Knesset’s Corona Committee discussed the low number of respirators. Committee Chairman, MK Ofer Shelah: “A highly alarming picture was revealed.” (Ynet Hebrew)
  • Israel Converts Missile Production Facility to Mass Produce Ventilators - Move comes in anticipation of a possible surge in the number of patients in need for respiratory assistance because of the coronavirus. (Haaretz+, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • IDF chief in quarantine after contact with coronavirus sufferer - Aviv Kochavi attended debate 10 days ago with individual later confirmed to have been infected; heads of Home Front Command and Operations Directorate also present and also in isolation until the weekend. (Ynet)
  • (Palestinians) In East Jerusalem are worried that the wave of layoffs due to corona will lead to poverty and hunger - A social activist in E. Jerusalem warns that "people are making by," but later crime will begin. Employees who have been laid off find it difficult to receive unemployment benefits because neither Social Security nor the National Employment Service have no Arabic form on the website. Dozens of NGOs and hundreds of activists joined forces to establish an emergency council in East Jerusalem. "The biggest problem is the overcrowding," said one of the activists on the council. "If one person gets infected then everyone will get infected." Jerusalem Municipality and Home Front plan to transfer corona patients from the east of the city to a hotel, probably in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. (Haaretz+ Hebrew)
  • Drive thru coronavirus testing center planned for East Jerusalem - Around 4,000 people were tested at drive through centers across Israel on Tuesday. (JPost)
  • Israel Plans Quarantine Facilities for Arabs, ultra-Orthodox Unable to Self-isolate - Health Ministry will provide the Interior Ministry with contact details and social workers will examine whether homes meet quarantine requirements. (Haaretz+)
  • **Israel Ramps Up Coronavirus Testing in Arab Cities Where Infection Rate Relatively Low - Government applications for unemployment benefits and municipal tax breaks still not available in Arabic. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Hospital Isolates ultra-Orthodox as Coronavirus Cases Climb in Communities - Staff emphasize differential treatment based on geographical mapping of the coronavirus, rather than group affiliation. (Haaretz+)
  • WATCH: Police arrived to disperse dozens of Jewish worshipers gathered at a yeshiva in Jerusalem - Police activity carried out in Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem revealed that some of the synagogues and yeshivas they ignored Ministry of Health guidelines. Financial penalties were imposed on the worshipers. (Maariv)
  • For Two Weeks, Israeli Police Enforced Coronavirus Orders Without Protective Gear - Health Ministry finally changes directives after spike in cases in ultra-Orthodox communities. (Haaretz+)
  • Health Ministry asks public to wear protective masks when leaving home - Health Ministry DG Bar-Siman-Tov says no need to hurry to purchase masks, as simple makeshift cloth face cover will suffice, says government considers placing virus hotspots under lockdown. (Ynet)
  • Without Inspectors, Health Ministry Regulations at Construction Sites Go Unmonitored - With inspectors on vacation due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are fewer people to monitor construction sites but government officials claim they're not to blame. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel ranks 'safest' country during coronavirus pandemic - Associates of PM Netanyahu say ranking by international website Deep Knowledge Group is the result of Israel's "justified over-preparation." Oxford University: Chances an Israeli corona patient will die stand at 0.37%. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Police Seek to Detain Coronavirus Patients for the Duration of Their Illness - A draft temporary order has been revised so that being a carrier of the coronavirus would not alone be grounds for detention, but criminal suspects who test positive could be held. (Haaretz+)
  • A Thermometer for Every Guest, No Room Service: Welcome to Israel's 'Hotel Coronavirus' - A unique program run by the army aims to relieve overcrowded hospitals by housing mildly ill people in hotels. It’s a logistic and psychological challenge, says the military officer in charge. (Haaretz+)
  • For Tel Aviv's Homeless, Dying of Hunger Is a Bigger Threat Than COVID-19 - Across Israel shelters are closed, restaurants no longer offer leftovers and surging numbers of addicts rely on overextended nonprofits. Protection or isolation from the coronavirus? Forget it. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's 18th coronavirus-related fatality single mother of twins - Family of country's youngest virus victim says doctors first diagnosed patient with strep throat before she was hospitalized; she is survived by two 4-year-old twins. (Ynet)
  • MyHeritage, China's BGI to launch coronavirus lab in Israel - COVID-19 testing lab in Israel aims to be fully operational by April 9. MyHeritage recruiting 150 employees for the lab, a national project in coordination with the Health Ministry. MyHeritage will donate its profits from the venture to Israeli hospitals, CEO says. (Israel Hayom)
  • With Hazmat Suits and Sanitizer, Collecting Letters to God in the Time of Coronavirus - Tens of thousands of notes are crammed into the crevices of Jerusalem's Western Wall, and are extracted twice a year. This time, clearing out the prayers, wishes and messages requires extra protection. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • In first since virus emerged in Gaza, banks deliver Qatari grants to poor - Doha says $100 bills to be distributed to 100,000 families; Hamas instructs beneficiaries to maintain distance of 1.5 meters from each another. (Times of Israel)
  • Iran's Coronavirus Death Toll Rises to 3,036, Health Ministry Official Says - 'We had 2,987 new cases of infected people in the past 24 hours and 15,473 people have recovered from the disease.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.S. Might Rethink Iran Sanctions in Light of Coronavirus Outbreak, Pompeo Says - Pompeo, who said sanctions don't apply to humanitarian supplies, said when asked if U.S. might reevaluate its stance on sanctions, 'would we ever rethink? – Of course.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi king offers to pay for coronavirus patients' treatment - The kingdom has registered eight deaths among 1,453 infections, the highest among the six Gulf Arab states. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Other Quick Hits:
  • Syria: Air defenses down missiles from Israeli warplanes near Homs -  State TV says IAF jets opened fire on Homs region while flying in Lebanese airspace, targeted unspecified army position; Beirut residents say they heard sound of warplanes in air shortly before airstrikes were reported. (Haaretz+, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • PA policemen conduct rare operation in E. Jerusalem village to halt armed clashes - Anti-riot police were dispatched to Kufr Aqab on Monday after armed clashes erupted between residents and activists from the nearby Qalandia refugee camp. Residents of these communities beyond Israel’s security wall, but in municipal Jerusalem, say the absence of Israeli security authorities has paved the way for armed gangs and Palestinian groups to impose a reign of terror and intimidation. (Haaretz+ and JPost)
  • Five Palestinians from East Jerusalem were detained in Border Police raid - Undercover Border Police forces were attacked with live fire in the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem while doing operational activity (activity not described in report - OH). The police returned fire and detained five suspects for questioning, one of whom sustained minor injuries. (Maariv)
  • US, Israel hold F-35 exercise without face-to-face bilateral meetings - "The forces flew in two formations of four and communicated directly, as opposed to through an indirect channel," IAF says. (Israel Hayom)
  • A tweet from Saudi Arabia - The long journey of the Western Orphean warbler: This week, a Saudi Arabian hunter informed the birding center of Israel’s Society for the Protection of Nature that he caught the bird marked in Jerusalem with a ring five years ago and even added to the message a photograph of the ring that was on her leg. “Unfortunately this means that the bird is most likely dead from the hunting, otherwise he would send a photo of the ring while it was on her leg,” said Joseph Khayat, director of the Israeli Birding Center said. This warbler is a small songbird nesting in northern Israel, Turkey and the Balkans. In winter, all the warblers migrate to Africa or Southwest Asia. In the fall and spring, they pass through Israel and can be viewed at the Jerusalem Birds Research Station. According to Khayat, the fact that the warbler decided to change its migration route and not pass through Jerusalem is an interesting event that may have been affected by the changing environmental conditions. "Last winter was relatively rainy in the Middle East deserts, which could affect the abundance of food in these areas and therefore also the choice of bird to migrate through the desert rather than through more fertile areas," he explained. (Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew and photos)
  • Citing Environmental Concerns, Tel Aviv Bans Disposables on Beaches - 70 percent of trash found on Tel Aviv beaches is from disposable plastic containers. (Haaretz+)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Oh, Benny: Gantz is the ultimate tragic-pathetic character (Isaac Ben-Ner, Maariv) How do you lose in a moment your lifetime achievement, Kahol-Lavan. and the confidence of a million shocked voters, join Netanyahu and legitimize his path and his enormous government?
Gantz Broke the Israeli Left's Heart; Labor Leader Stuck a Dagger in It (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Their intention to join forces with Netanyahu has left the so-called Zionist left defeated, deserted, despondent and facing imminent demise.
The Israeli left is melancholy, partly because of the recent "round of betrayals" (Arik Bender, Maariv) In spite of the embarrassing results of the recent election, despite all the alliances, it seems that the alternative camp has not yet realized it has lost its way. The Israeli left, which is in one of its lowest periods, is undergoing melancholy. But there seems to be more than the pain of the election crash and the constant decline in the number of mandates, it is difficult for the left to digest the phenomenon of "betrayal" and the loss of its path. In the past, they used to mock the Israeli left, that it could hold its conferences inside a telephone booth. Today, that reality is no longer a joke.
As Netanyahu and Gantz Prepare for Unity, Social Darwinism Is at the Gates (Sami Peretz, Haaretz+) Worse than the enormous waste of establishing a cabinet with 34 ministers is the fear that this crazy idea signals the greatest danger facing Israel at this time: Social Darwinism. The message being sent by what will apparently be the government coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – in a rotation with Benny Gantz – is that in order to form a stable government you must hand out jobs, while inflating the cabinet to an unprecedented size…The public needs a functioning, efficient and effective government at this moment, and leadership that it can trust. The proliferation of government ministries entails heavy costs of hundreds of millions of shekels a year and even larger indirect and hidden costs – because of the bureaucracy and complications it leads to…A cabinet of 34 ministers testifies to our political leaders being totally cut off from reality and their ignoring the fundamental principles needed to get through this crisis period: Trust, solidarity, responsibility for one another, restraint and serving as an example.
Time for pragmatic Arab politics (Jalal Bana, Israel Hayom) If Arab politicians continue to present overly-rigid demands that cannot possibly be met, they will find it difficult to join even a government formed by Meretz.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Coronavirus, the Greatest Challenge to ultra-Orthodox Jewish Life Since the Holocaust (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Torah no longer saves from death. The coronavirus has dealt an unimaginable blow to the rabbinical authority - and worldview - that ultra-Orthodox Jews previously regarded as infallible and eternal.
The price of ultra-Orthodox disconnect from society (Amihai Attali, Ynet) The average Haredi person is not at fault, it is their custom to remain isolated and only follow their rabbis; it is up to the government to bring the information regarding the virus and its dangers to them.
Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jews Face Coronavirus Devastation. They Need Face Masks (Jessica Apple, Haaretz+) Israel has allowed members of the ultra-Orthodox community to forego basic education in the subjects that are crucial to understanding the threat of COVID-19.  A population that knows no science is not equipped to comprehend the threat of a virus. And a person who has never learned basic math cannot be expected to understand the graphs about flattening the curve.
No, everything won't 'be fine' in Israel (Dan Ben David, A blasé homily has long defined state policies, leading to a deterioration in the health system and allowing one fifth of the population to remain uneducated - creating a future without the professionals that every modern country needs to thrive.
The Coronavirus Crisis Shows the Disgrace That Is Israel's Health Minister (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) For the next several weeks or perhaps months, the ones managing the country will not be the elected officials, politicians trying to advance social welfare or a national agenda. It will be clerks, experts, advisers, policemen, inspectors, corporations, intelligence agencies and even soldiers who will all be directed toward one mission: eliminating the coronavirus. This mission will leave no room for chatter about democracy, patients’ rights or minority rights. The public’s capitulation is so complete that even a “thin” government or even a sole ruler could fulfill this role. Any order issued by the leadership – any leadership – will be fully obeyed out of fear of COVID-19, fines or arrest, or because no one has any better way to cope with this virus. But even within this blind, obedient suffocation, about which we may later ask whether it was responsible and necessary, one must still decry the unparalleled disgrace of Health Minister Yaakov Litzman. This man, who takes his orders from flesh-and-blood messiahs and believes that this epidemic is another test from God for the children of Israel (and Ishmael) before he sends them the Messiah, is ostensibly responsible for the most important struggle in the history of the state – but in actuality, he’s responsible for nothing. It’s doubtful that he is able to follow the explanations of his own director general.
Sometimes, shaming is a mitzvah (Irwin J. Mansdorf, Israel Hayom) Psychologically, we always choose education over coercion. But those who knowingly, intentionally, take a chance not just with their lives but also with yours and mine, must be called out on it.
The Corona has cut diplomatic ties, but Netanyahu will bring them back (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) Will diplomacy return to normal when the crisis is over? Probably not immediately. Not only because the world will look different, but also because it will be difficult to rebuild the previous relationships and heal the disconnects created.
Coronavirus, occupation, and the Haggadah (Moshe Phillips, Israel Hayom)  J Street's booklet for Passover concentrates on criticism of Israel over the alleged "occupation" rather than the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
Too Big a Brother (Haaretz Editorial) Under the cover of the spreading coronavirus, the government is deepening its invasion of the lives of this country’s citizens. Defense Minister Naftali Bennett continues to use his temporary authority in order to promote plans that run roughshod over the right to privacy, while demolishing the distinction, so vital in a democracy, between the army and civil society.
The voice of the Gulf: In Jerusalem, one must be wary of the forgiving approach on the way to solidarity (Ksenia Svetlova, Maariv) Is the State of Israel gradually trying to get closer to the alliance of moderate Sunni Gulf states, is it developing dependence on Qatar, which gives official sponsorship to the Muslim Brotherhood?
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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