2020-03-31 03:05:55 57044800 Why has Health Ministry failed to prepare for coronavirus? Opinion: Despite early reports from China that many of those infected would require respiratory assistance, it has emerged that Israeli officials did not even know how many ventilators there are in the country, not to mention looming shortages of anesthesia and needles Sarit Rosenblum https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57044800,00.html Mon, 30 Mar 2020 23:34:13 +03:00 Among the Health Ministry’s extensive list of failures in dealing with the coronavirus crisis, it seems there is one that is most egregious. For despite the reports from China that those in critical condition require prolonged and extensive respiratory assistance, the Health Ministry has not even done the bare minimum to acquire the main resource needed to treat our own patients - ventilators. It’s not only that these live-saving machines weren’t ordered soon enough, before they became the world’s first most sought-after piece of medical equipment, it's the fact that the Health Ministry did not even know how many machines were available in Israel to begin with. Without them, it is impossible to manage the crisis we are now facing. The first reports of a potential ventilator shortage in hospitals first arose at the start of March. In a conversation I had at around this time with Dr. Vered Ezra, the head of Medical Management of the Health Ministry, she tried to convey a message of reassurance to the public, saying there were approximately 3,000 ventilators in the hospitals around the country, with 70% of them being used extensively. Another 400 ventilators were in storage in case of an emergency and an additional 1,000 had been ordered and were expected to arrive. “We have enough machines for the coming months,” promised Ezra. “We will not experience a shortage.” On Thursday though, the real numbers were revealed to a Knesset committee by Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov. “We have approximately 1,500 machines ready for use,” said Bar-Siman-Tov. “There are additional machines we have taken from the army, and 70 more in the private sector. All in all, we will have 2,864 ventilators at our disposal for the time being.” Later Thursday, the Health Ministry released a statement affirming the numbers given by Bar-Siman-Tov: There are currently 2,864 ventilators available, including those belonging to the IDF. In a daily briefing given to journDirector-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov.</p> <p>“We have approximately 1,500 machines ready for use,” said Bar-Siman-Tov.&nbsp;</p> <p>“There are additional machines we have taken from the army, and 70 more in the private sector. All in all, we will have 2,864 ventilators at our disposal for the time being.”</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6277888> </p><p>Later Thursday, the Health Ministry released a statement affirming the numbers given by Bar-Siman-Tov: There are currently 2,864 ventilators available, including those belonging to the IDF.&nbsp;</p> <p>In a daily briefing given to journalists on Sunday, a “moderate” scenario was reported as likely, in which some 5,000 patients required respiratory aid.</p> <p>Suddenly, Dr. Ezra sounded more reserved.&nbsp;</p> <p>Indeed, she said, "there is a disparity in the numbers, which is due in part to an incorrect count as well as to the fact that some machines we thought could be used to help coronavirus patients cannot actually do so."</p> <p>“We have recalculated the numbers, and tuned our target numbers, including procurement targets,” she said.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6277889> </p><p>But it is not only ventilators that are in short supply in Israel, there is also a shortage of anesthesia and vital equipment for administering intravenous drugs is likely to be lacking in the near future.&nbsp;</p> <p>These too are being procured, Ezra promised.</p> <p>According to the Health Ministry director-general, Israel started its preparations for a coronavirus outbreak on January 20, well before it expected to deal with a wave of patients who require critical respiratory aid.&nbsp;</p> <p>So the question have to be asked: Given that we are just two days away from April, if all of the above are still in the process of being procured, what exactly has the ministry been doing for the Past two and half months?&nbsp;</p> <p><br></p> message 57042180 Defense Ministry must lead the war on coronavirus Opinion: The virus is hitting Israel in every conceivable arena, and with all due respect to the Health Ministry currently at the vanguard, there is just one entity equipped to deal with a crisis of this scale Moshe Karadi https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57042180,00.html Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:57:51 +03:00 Dealing with the coronavirus is not a medical issue, and it hasn't been one for a while now. It is a logistical operation being waged on a battlefield filled with ambiguity. It is an operation that only the Defense Ministry has the experience, knowledge and ability to tackle. Dealing with an event on such a scale requires high levels of ability in various fields, demanding discipline, solid outreach capabilities, ordered logistical and operational readiness for responding to a wide range of scenarios and the ability to build tactical and strategic responses across multiple organizations. This is all before we have even touched on the need to tackle the challenge of the epidemic in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority. Who but the Defense Ministry has the credentials to deal with the reality of the current situation? In August 2004, as Israel Police commissioner, I participated by the security cabinet where the issue of the responsibility for carrying out the disengagement mission to evacuate the Gaza settlement bloc Gush Katif was first raised. At the hearing, a dispute arose between then-defense minister Shaul Mofaz and then-public security minister Tzachi Hanegbi. Mofaz's position, which reflected that of the IDF, was that the task should be handed on the police and the responsibility to manage it given to the Public Security Ministry in the grounds that IDF soldiers are unaccustomed to missions involving civilians, and that this was a question of law enforcement by nature. Hanegbi on the other hand claimed that the police force did not have the manpower to carry out such a task. When the late prime minister Ariel Sharon asked me about my position in the argument, I expressed the same stance as Hanegbi. I also said that such a task required at least a year of preparation and that it would dramatically impact on the police ability to function throughout that year. There was a sense in the discussion that everyone was right. Sharon concluded by saying th claimed that the police force did not have the manpower to carry out such a task.</p> <p>When the late prime minister Ariel Sharon asked me about my position in the argument, I expressed the same stance as Hanegbi. I also said that such a task required at least a year of preparation and that it would dramatically impact on the police ability to function throughout that year.</p> <p>There was a sense in the discussion that everyone was right.</p> <p>Sharon concluded by saying that there are tasks that only security agencies are able to carry out, while only the Defense Ministry was able to manage the administrative side.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6276054> </p><p>And so it was decided that the task of actually evacuating the settlers from Gaza would be entrusted to the police while overall responsibility for the operational and logistical preparations would be carried out by the IDF.</p> <p>The overall responsibility for carrying out the task was given to the Defense Ministry, with the minister of public security having the final say in the decision-making process.</p> <p>What helped the execution of the mission was completely divorcing this process of dividing responsibilities from any political, national or security perspectives about the disengagement.</p> <p>Israel’s disengagement from Gaza is not the only example: Over the years, other civilian missions have been entrusted to the Defense Ministry.&nbsp;</p> <p>There is a reason why over the years the Israel Police, IDF Home Front Command, Magen David Adom emergency service and the Fire and Rescue Services have collaborated to prepare for extreme scenarios and disasters such as a massive earthquake.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6276055> </p><p>Events of this scale require massive logistical and operational mobilization while responsibility is often passed from one body to another. They demand solid command and control capabilities and mutual assistance.</p> <p>In my various postings in the Israel Police, and especially as its commissioner, I have been seen first hand the capabilities of the government ministries, the emergency services and the various security agencies.&nbsp;</p> <p>With all due respect to the Health Ministry, it is not built to oversee an event of this magnitude, despite the talented people who are part of this ministry.</p> <p>The Health Ministry has a major role on the current &nbsp;battlefield; it has the exclusive mandate to assess the medical situation in the fields of prevention and treatment, but this campaign far exceeds its capabilities.</p> <p>In my humble opinion, &nbsp;based on my many years of experience, the overall responsibility for treating the coronavirus must be transferred to the Defense Ministry as soon as possible.</p> <p><em>Moshe Karadi is a former commissioner of the Israel Police&nbsp;</em></p> message 57040570 Wanted: A non-bloated, non-bankrupt government Opinion: While the coronavirus epidemic ravages the global economy, it is up to a nation's leaders to show fiscal and moral responsibility; in Israel though, the heads of state have seized the opportunity to promote their own interests Ben-Dror Yemini https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57040570,00.html Mon, 30 Mar 2020 10:46:28 +03:00 Most Israelis support a unity government - even those who voted for Benny Gantz because of his pledge to not join a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu know that this is the only way to go. But there is simply no excuse whatsoever to form a massively bloated government of 30 ministers - as opposed to the previous government of 22. These are dog days; the coronavirus has created a state of global emergency, creating one of the worst economic crises Israel and the world have ever known. With almost one million unemployed, both those who have been laid off and those forced on unpaid leave have turned to the country's leadership and are wondering why is there such an overabundance of ministers. There are already thousands of families where both partners have lost their livelihoods and this is precisely the time a government needs to reduce costs in order to aid them. What do we have instead? A coalition with a record number of redundant ministers, with each one receiving a hefty salary from the state coffers. Is this really how you create trust? Israel's first government had just 12 ministers, but that number has grown and grown as the years went by. The unity government of the 80s had 25-26 ministers; Ariel Sharon’s 2001 government had 28 ministers; and Netanyahu’s 2009 government also had 30 ministers. Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party won 19 seats in the 2013 elections, one of his first demands was a government of just 18 ministers, although he ended up compromising on 23 ministers, while in the last government there were 22 ministers. Where are we when compared to Europe? Well, Germany has 14 ministers, France has 18, Italy 21 and Spain 22. In fact, I am doubtful there is one country in Europe with 30 ministers. Yesh Atid’s demand for an 18-minister government found its way on Blue & White agenda too, but has anybody heard Gantz make this demand in order to save money in a time of turmoil? Gantz’s Bue & White has just 17 MKs (15 for his Israel Resilience party n 23 ministers, while in the last government there were 22 ministers.</p> <p>Where are we when compared to Europe? Well, &nbsp;Germany has 14 ministers, France has 18, Italy 21 and Spain 22. In fact, I am doubtful there is one country in Europe with 30 ministers.</p> <p>Yesh Atid’s demand for an 18-minister government found its way on Blue &amp; White agenda too, but has anybody heard Gantz make this demand in order to save money in a time of turmoil?</p> <p>Gantz’s Bue &amp; White has just 17 MKs (15 for his Israel Resilience party and 2 for the new Derekh Eretz party that is aligned to it) though it seems that his party will receive 15 minister roles.</p> <p>It is baffling that Gantz doesn't see this as absurd, and all the more so during these times of trouble.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6277760> </p><p>If Gantz does indeed support this exaggerated number of ministers, he won’t be able to say it was necessary or inevitable, because we all know that the opposite is true: during an emergency that creates economic difficulties, it is up to the government to lead by example and cut costs.</p> <p>Gantz promised us a new way in politics; you can understand or even justify one broken promise, but there is no excuse, no explanation and no understanding for an extravagant overly bloated government in which almost every MK from Gantz’s party is a minister.</p> <p>The coming days will see numerous discussions regarding the formation of the unity government and naturally the number of ministers will come up.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is up to Gantz , who oa debt to his voters, to prove that a unity government is a necessity and not moral bankruptcy on his part.</p> message 57038850 Coronavirus in Gaza is both a threat and an opportunity for Israel Opinion: Although the northern border appears to pose no threat right now, in the Hamas-controlled enclave a massive COVID-19 outbreak might result in another cross-border flare-up, as the militants who rule the Strip grow wrathful at the lack of medical assistance Alex Fishman https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57038850,00.html Sun, 29 Mar 2020 23:29:43 +03:00 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Naftali Bennet have recently been briefed by army commanders about concerns that the coronavirus outbreak in the Gaza Strip might result in another cross-border flare-up. If Hamas officials would become overwhelmed by the number of COVID-19 cases in Gaza, they might lash out on Israel as a way to demand medical and logistical assistance to deal with the epidemic. The military officials' prognosis sounds almost apocalyptic in its estimates, predicting rocket fire so massive, it hasn't been seen in Israel in years. Scenarios include rocket attacks and mortar shelling of Israeli towns and cities in order to force Israel, and the international community, into actively helping the Hamas rulers to combat the spread of the virus. Friday's rocket launch on the city of Sderot was a reminder to residents of the south, who are homebound under government orders, that prolonged periods of time in bomb shelters will not allow social distancing and lead to more infections on the Israeli side of the border. Another nightmare scenario includes masses of Palestinians rushing the border fence to save themselves from the raging disease in the besieged enclave. These will not be violent demonstrators but frightened and helpless civilians, many of whom might be infected and the military response will have to be a non-violent one because Israel cannot claim it has any legitimacy to open fire on sick civilians. In their recommendations to the political leadership, the military wants government officials to act urgently in order facilitate international effort to mobilize aid for Gaza immediately, before the situation deteriorates. At the moment, humanitarian assistance to the Strip is minimal. The monthly payment of 25$ million from Qatar continues to flow into Gaza but the help from the World Health Organization is a drop in the ocean compared what's needed in case an actual epidemic erupts in the enclave. The 500 coronavirus teo the political leadership, the military wants government officials to act urgently in order facilitate international effort to mobilize aid for Gaza immediately, before the situation deteriorates.</p> <p>At the moment, humanitarian assistance to the Strip is minimal. The monthly payment of 25$ million from Qatar continues to flow into Gaza but the help from the World Health Organization is a drop in the ocean compared what's needed in case an actual epidemic erupts in the enclave.</p> <p>The 500 coronavirus testing kits supplied by Israel is also far from sufficient and the army says that Israeli govern must include the needs of the Gaza Strip in its procurement efforts and increase its supply of materials for infrastructure projects.</p> <p>According to the IDF, the situation is both a warning that an outbreak might lead to a war and an opportunity to stabilize Gaza. Israel's relations with Hamas officials could improve on the basis of humanitarian cooperation, which could result in their total dependence on Israeli government as an outcome of this emergency.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6271507> </p><p>Military activity has been dialed down all around the world, with Russia canceling exercises on its borders and the U.S. postponing its largest drill of 25 years planned for the European arena.</p> <p>Counter-terrorism operations have also been suspended, allowing the Jihadi terrorists time to step back and prepare for a later time.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah will most likely maintain a smaller public presence after many in that country see the Shi'ite movement as the one responsible for the coronavirus crisis in the country after Hezbollah officials brought the virus to Lebanon following their visit in Iran.&nbsp;</p> <p>The last thing the organization needs is for Israel to act on its threats to severely punish anyone that poses any danger to its population.</p> <p>In the West Bank, where the coronavirus tolls nears 100 cases, Is message 57036220 Israel must turn to herd immunity to combat coronavirus Opinion: The elderly and those with health problems must be isolated while the young, who will likely experience only mild symptoms, should be back at work even if they were infected with COVID-19 in order to make the population immune to the virus Dr. Yoav Yeheskeli https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57036220,00.html Sun, 29 Mar 2020 14:18:37 +03:00 A pandemic that is caused by an unknown emerging infection causes uncertainty and panic. When managing such a crisis, it's important to take extreme steps early on to contain the disease and to gradually ease restrictions as new data emerges. We must be one step ahead of the disease. Such an unusual biological event like coronavirus, demands intelligence that would provide new data in real time, an ability which I don't believe Israel has, so the decision makers understand what are the best cost-effective measures. The dramatic difference between the degree of illness from COVID-19 in the young compared to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, should warrant a drastic change in the overall strategy. The prevailing policy in Israel is to suppress the disease by minimizing the spread of the virus in the general public through social distancing and quarantine, to enable medical care without hospitals being overwhelmed by a swarm of new cases. Although it's an adequate way to slow the rate of infection, the overall number of cases would still remain high and the human, social and economy toll on the country would become intolerable. The quest to slow transmission of the virus, known as "flattening the curve," only postpones the inevitable charge on hospitals, while increasing the risk to health providers. Hospitals are constrained by the number of intensive care units available for seriously ill patients and mild cases should be kept at bay so as to protect medical centers from overcapacity, while increasing the number of ventilators and adequately trained teams. The important figures to consider, therefore, are not the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus - which reflect an increase in testing - but rather the number of severe cases and deaths as a result of the disease. Italy and Spain saw a surge in critically ill patients that overpowered their medical capabilities, while countries such as Switzerland and Germany were still able to coould be kept at bay so as to protect medical centers from overcapacity, while increasing the number of ventilators and adequately trained teams.</p> <p>The important figures to consider, therefore, are not the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus - which reflect an increase in testing - but rather the number of severe cases and deaths as a result of the disease.</p> <p>Italy and Spain saw a surge in critically ill patients that overpowered their medical capabilities, while countries such as Switzerland and Germany were still able to contain that number, keeping the seriously ill under 2% of all cases.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6272319> </p><p>Israel implemented - although slowly and hesitantly - correct measures early on and the current containment of the virus presents an opportunity to re-examine our strategy going forward.</p> <p>The latest tightening of restrictions meant to combat the outbreak should be enforced on the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. The rest of the population, meanwhile, should gradually return to their lives the way they were prior to the health crisis.</p> <p>The systematic testing, however, should continue in order to identify hot spots of the disease and make sure we are protecting medical teams against the infection.&nbsp;</p> <p>Although by allowing the young and healthy to return to work more people would become infected, but they would mostly have mild symptoms, thus creating herd immunity, (a form of indirect protection from viruses that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection).</p> <p>This will ultimately lower the rate of infections.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6272320> </p><p>When the crisis ends, the only two things that would matter are the number of coronavirus-related deaths and the state of Israel's economy. The number of overall cases when you've created herd immunity is irrelevant.&nbsp;</p> <p>The World Health Organization defined message 57032190 Israel is coronavirus light unto Arab nations Opinion: Middle East countries are not looking towards Europe, which is failing to stem the virus, or the U.S., which seems to have missed the boat on efficient measures entirely - they only look to their long-time enemy Smadar Perry https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57032190,00.html Sat, 28 Mar 2020 23:21:5 +03:00 Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, a prominent Iranian cleric, recently succeeded in shocking his followers by saying publicly that, "If Israel has the coronavirus vaccine, if the treatment is unique and there is no substitute, then this is not an obstacle.” The statement managed to rile up the Revolutionary Guard Corps' top brass, who in turn urged the administration to convince Shirazi, a close friend of Supreme Leader Ali Khomeini, to "apologize" for his words, which it did - after three days. But Iran's business sector and youth quickly showed support for the aging cleric. It's amazing to discover how much the entire Arab world is following Israel's efforts against the coronavirus. Many of these nations, mainly ones with which Jerusalem has no official ties, are even cooperating with Israeli health officials to a certain degree. Doctors from Morocco to Iraq wish to learn how Israel is dealing with the epidemic, many writing to Israeli colleagues they have met at international conventions, trying to exact a promise to share "once there is a breakthrough." The Arab world does not look towards Europe, which is failing to deal with the virus, or the U.S., which seems to have missed the boat on efficient measures entirely; they only look to their long-time enemy. Even one of the Persian Gulf states, whose name cannot be published, sent several protective suits to Israel in exchange for medial information. Because of Israel's methods of dealing with the virus, the cold relationship between Jerusalem and Jordanian King Abdullah II's palace in Amman have seemed to warm up behind the scenes, with the kingdom following closely developments. Israeli doctors are updating Jordanian, Palestinian, Egyptian and Persian Gulf counterparts on all the latest findings around the clock. The Arab nations seem to generally repeat every step Israel takes, albeit a little more harshly. Israel imposes a partial lockdown, they enlist the army and close the streets from of Israel's methods of dealing with the virus, the cold relationship between Jerusalem and Jordanian King Abdullah II's palace in Amman have seemed to warm up behind the scenes, with the kingdom following closely developments.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israeli doctors are updating Jordanian, Palestinian, Egyptian and Persian Gulf counterparts on all the latest findings around the clock.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Arab nations seem to generally repeat every step Israel takes, albeit a little more harshly. Israel imposes a partial lockdown, they enlist the army and close the streets from 9pm till morning. We allow citizens to only go out and buy food and medicine, and the Arab world does the same.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6271139> </p><p>This could also be explored from the other direction, with some nations taking drastic premature steps ahead of Israel.&nbsp;</p> <p>Iran was the first to release over 70,000 prisoners, many political inmates, out of fear for a mass infection in its 32 prisons.&nbsp;</p> <p>Syria followed suit, and suddenly pardoned thousands of prisoners in its prisons.</p> <p>Egypt, which already has four confirmed virus deaths in its very crowded prisons, is more reluctant about mass pardons.&nbsp;</p> <p>The same is true in Jordan, which has only released shundred without too much fanfare. In Israel, there is still no official policy regarding the release of prisoners.&nbsp;</p> <p><br></p> message 57029550 Virus causes surge in WW II references, but is it merited? Opinion: Compare the utter destruction of cities to empty streets now. Or the death tolls: 85 million then, over 18,000 now, though that latter figure is expected to multiply; World War II reference is unhelpful and only adds to the fear Associated Press https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57029550,00.html Sat, 28 Mar 2020 8:37:37 +03:00 In the first week of June 2019, World War II was on many people's minds. It was the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a week filled with events honoring the sacrifice and blood of tens of thousands of Allied soldiers that was spilled on the French beaches. Leaders from the United States, Britain, Canada, France -- and then-foe and now ally Germany -- gathered in a rare show of unity in Normandy, where the tide of the war was so decisively turned. Now, nine months later, World War II references are once again being heard daily -- because of the coronavirus. The comparison is everywhere in recent days: The world is facing the most serious threat and challenge since the last truly global war. Various leaders have cited World War II in their virus-related remarks. There is a pervasive fear that an ‘’invisible enemy'' could cause a severe escalation in deaths, ravage the global economy, hamper food supply and spark social unrest. And there's pushback, too -- that the World War II reference is unhelpful and only adds to the fear. But compare these past frightening few weeks with this roll call of names, places, and battles: Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill. Auschwitz and Pearl Harbor and Midway and Stalingrad. The siege of Leningrad, the German blitz of London and the Allied firebombing of Dresden. The final, nuclear chapters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And compare the utter destruction of cities to empty streets now. Or the death tolls: 85 million then, over 18,000 now, though that latter figure is expected to multiply. Do the World War II comparisons really hold up, or is it just a convenient metaphor? Here's a look at the connections between the two eras -- and the fundamental differences as well. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was born the decade after the Nazis' defeat and grew up in East Germany feeling the war's direct consequences. Last week, in a rare address to her nation, she stared into the camera with this appeal: "Since German unification -- no, n. The final, nuclear chapters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.</p> <p>And compare the utter destruction of cities to empty streets now. Or the death tolls: 85 million then, over 18,000 now, though that latter figure is expected to multiply.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6270159> </p><p>Do the World War II comparisons really hold up, or is it just a convenient metaphor? Here's a look at the connections between the two eras -- and the fundamental differences as well.</p> <p>German Chancellor Angela Merkel was born the decade after the Nazis' defeat and grew up in East Germany feeling the war's direct consequences. Last week, in a rare address to her nation, she stared into the camera with this appeal: "Since German unification -- no, since the Second World War -- there has been no challenge to our nation that has demanded such a degree of common and united action."</p> <p>U.S. President Donald Trump went from dismissing the virus as a "hoax" to declaring himself a "wartime president" as he cited the 70-year-old Defense Production Act to battle shortages in desperately needed medical supplies like masks and ventilators as more and more Americans become stricken. He hasn't actually used the federal law yet in spite of strong calls from, among others, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to do so immediately.</p> <p>Queen Elizabeth, speaking in recent days, seemed to allude to her own teenage years in World War II when she served as a mechanic and drove military trucks as part of the auxiliary territorial armed services in Britain. "At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation's history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one," she said.</p> <p>Italy has suffered more deaths than any other nation from the virus so far. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte went on TV late Saturday, announcing that he was tightening the country's lockdown and shutting down all production facilities except those providing essential goods and services. He said: "We are facing the most serious crisis that the country has experienced since World War II."</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6270160> </p><p>In World War II, 3% of the world's population died; of an estimated 2.3 billion people, 85 million perished. With a current global populace of some 7.7 billion, a similar death toll from the pandemic would mean 231 million dead. Some experts have warned of tens of millions dying from the virus if lockdown and social-distancing measures are not adhered to.</p> <p>But there is no endless bombardment from above across vast swaths of the earth, nor a global human tide of misery fleeing those bombs and massacres, nor concentration camps, nor multiple prisoner of war camps with forced labor.</p> <p>Entire cities and towns were razed in World War II. Oradour-sur-Glane, France -- where the Nazis carried out the worst massacre of civilians on French territory in 1944 -- is a ghost town, preserved today in ruin as Nazis left it. More than 600 people, including nearly 250 children, were slaughtered.</p> <p>Governments are showing varying degrees of commitment to keeping critical industries and the working population afloat in the time of COVID-19. Rescue plans projected by several Western countries bear a resemblance to the Marshall Plan, the $15 billion U.S. initiative that aided European recovery after World War II.</p> <p>In several countries, as many men fought overseas in World War II, women were called upon to bolster the workforce and, in particular, help to produce armaments. Now the key workers across the world are the doctors, nurses, caregivers and cleaners -- and those who can are told to work from home to avoid spreading the virus.</p> <p>That work and the economies it sustains, like much else in the modern world, is dependent on one key connector: internet service. If that cratered, the next phase of crisis could be one triggered not by developments in technology -- such as the atomic bomb -- but simply by the su message 57024060 Gantz deal leaves Netanyahu allies in the cold Analysis: Yamina holds consultations on party's next move as PM's agreement with Gantz may leave it deep in the opposition; right-wing sources claim such a government will face a strong resistance if the former IDF chief's party is treated favorably Moran Azulay https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57024060,00.html Fri, 27 Mar 2020 0:1:32 +03:00 The agreement on unity government between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel Resilience party leader Benny Gantz, which is taking shape and promises the right-wing bloc only 15 ministerial portfolios, may bode ill for Netanyahu's alleged natural partners. While the ultra-Orthodox parties will keep the government offices they have held so far, the Health Ministry in the hands of United Torah Judaism and the ministries of interior affairs and religious services in the hands of Shas, the situation remains unclear for the Yamina alliance. The party union's leaders – Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, Education Minister Rafi Peretz, and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich – spoke to Netanyahu Thursday evening and tried to understand what exactly did he destine for them. Likud sources say that Netanyahu is yet to determine whether Bennett's party is going to be part of his government at all. During negotiation talks, the option that Naftali Bennett would leave the Defense Ministry and move to the Ministry of Education was brought up, but Bennett has yet to give his consent to such a move. Another spoke in the current agreement's wheel is a previous agreement between Bennett and Shaked which determines both lawmakers will receive ministerial positions of equal importance – a task that may prove problematic with the number of portfolios currently left available for the right-wing bloc and especially when taking into account a large number of portfolios Netanyahu will keep for his own Likud ranks. The Yamina faction held discussions regarding their next moves. Key Yamina officials and activists believe that if a unity government does come to light, the roles they will receive will be of lesser importance and they may be better off staying in the opposition. Sources on the right claim that such a government, in which Gantz - who only has 15 seats - receives an equal treatment as the 58-seat-strong right-wing bloc, will face strong opposition. </p> <p>The Yamina faction held discussions regarding their next moves. Key Yamina officials and activists believe that if a unity government does come to light, the roles they will receive will be of lesser importance and they may be better off staying in the opposition.</p> <p>Sources on the right claim that such a government, in which Gantz - who only has 15 seats - receives an equal treatment as the 58-seat-strong right-wing bloc, will face strong opposition.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6267448> </p><p>Gantz's road into Netanyahu's government was paved after he submitted his candidacy for the position of Knesset speaker, despite an internal agreement in Blue &amp; White that MK Meir Cohen of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid faction would step into office after former-Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.</p> <p>The disagreement eventually led Lapid and Blue &amp; White co-leader Moshe Ya'alon to split off from Gantz.</p> <p>The former IDF chief was elected speaker in Edelstein's stead with the right-wing bloc's support. Seventy-four members of Knesset voted for Gantz's appointment, while 18 voted against, and the rest abstained from the vote.</p> <p>After his election, Gantz gave a speech in which he tried to explain his reasoning behind the move.</p> <p>"These are not normal days. In these times of emergency, hundreds of thousands of citizens, who have lost their livelihood in recent days, are looking up to us. This emergency is also the climax of the worst and most complicated governmental and parliamentary crisis since the conception of the state. The only reason I decided to nominate myself for Knesset speaker today is to exhaust all available options to form a national emergency government."</p> <p>I established Blue &amp; White and I am very proud of that. I meant and would still be happy to do everything in my ability so we can keep walking down the same road. I call on all my possible political partners to act in the same way. Let's not be mistaken, I will message 57017350 Netanyahu won the political battle, but Israel lost coronavirus war Opinion: PM and the Health Ministry's continued refusal to cooperate with the defense ministry to tackle the COVID-19 crisis may cost the nation many lives and all because Netanyahu didn't want to give an upper hand to his political rival, Naftali Bennett Yossi Yehoshua https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57017350,00.html Wed, 25 Mar 2020 23:10:50 +03:00 One of the main issues the future state committee, set up to examine the government's conduct during the coronavirus outbreak, will be the price Israel paid for not tasking the security apparatus with overseeing the crisis. In due time, the answer will become clear: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn't want to transfer authority over the handling of the situation to Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, his political rival. When Bennet began calling for mass testing, the Health Ministry opposed, directly contradicting the stance of the World Health Organization (WHO) and health officials in South Korea, a country that in a short time thwarted the spread of the disease. When Bennet called for COVID-19 patients to be taken out of their houses and put into dedicated recovery centers - also in accordance with WHO's recommendations - the Health Ministry once again objected, advocating instead for home hospitalization that (puts the patients' relatives at risk of infection). It has to be said that over the recent days, the ministry has begun making a U-turn regarding its policy on the number of tests and hospitalization in recovery centers. But, the more serious issue remains - the lack of ventilators. Every Israeli who reads the news already knows the horror stories coming out of Spain and Italy, where doctors are forced to disconnect the elderly from the ventilators to help the younger patients. On Tuesday evening, Netanyahu ordered Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to establish a command center and be responsible for the necessary procurement of medical equipment to fill the need of the medical teams including ventilators. Where was Netanyahu until now? Why was so much time wasted by the Health Ministry trying in vain to acquire ventilators when the defense ministry, an expert in this field, was sidelined? The defense ministry can, for example, use its special tech units to convert simple at-home respirators to a more effective model, which is what the special tening, Netanyahu ordered Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to establish a command center and be responsible for the necessary procurement of medical equipment to fill the need of the medical teams including ventilators.</p> <p>Where was Netanyahu until now? Why was so much time wasted by the Health Ministry trying in vain to acquire ventilators when the defense ministry, an expert in this field, was sidelined?</p> <p>The defense ministry can, for example, use its special tech units to convert simple at-home respirators to a more effective model, which is what the special tech department in the Military Intelligence Directorate is already doing.&nbsp;</p> <p>Private companies could have also been used to help with the task, but they were ignored as well.&nbsp;</p> <p>The prime minister and the health minister have wasted valuable time, let us hope it will not cost us human lives.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6263804> </p><p>It could be that at this point, putting the defense ministry in charge is nothing short of useless, but they should have been tasked with the mission long ago. Instead, Netanyahu was afraid that Bennett would "steal" the challenges ahead by tackling them sooner and better than the prime minister.&nbsp;</p> <p>The defense ministry should have been given the go-ahead to manage this crisis months ago when the situation in China first unveiled its dangerous potential.</p> <p>But, unfortunately, it did not happen. In this instance, Netanyahu the political battle but Israel might lose the coronavirus war.</p> message 57015280 Israeli officials are fighting each other instead of coronavirus Opinion: The number of confirmed cases in Israel is on the rise, so is the number of seriously ill and, most frighteningly, the dead; yet, people are still out and about enjoying their 'time off' and spreading the virus further Sarit Rosenblum https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57015280,00.html Wed, 25 Mar 2020 16:32:12 +03:00 There are battles being waged between Israeli officials tasked with managing the coronavirus crisis in Israel. The Health Ministry is in a battle against the Defense Ministry over who should take the lead and against the Finance Ministry that opposes drastic steps. Doctors are fighting Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, deeming him unqualified to manage the crisis. Bar-Siman-Tov is fighting with Health Ministry's no. 2 Professor Itamar Grotto. Defense Minister Naftali Bennet is fighting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and vis-a versa. And while all of this is happening, no one is there to fight the virus. While leaders are motivated by their own interests and egos, COVID-19 continues to cause havoc and we are catching up with the numbers reported out of Italy, Spain and the rest of Europe. The number of confirmed cases, seriously ill and patients needing ventilators is rising dramatically. Coronavirus wards in our hospitals are quickly filling up and the death toll is also increasing. Now that the immediate future is becoming clear, there is no time to waste on nonsense. The new measures, with only minor alterations to those already in place, do not change the prognosis one bit. The bickering, over whether to restrict people to venture from home 50 or 100 meters, doesn't change much in the grand scheme of things. All health experts agree and have been demanding a complete lockdown to be imposed on everyone. No exceptions. Only a full lockdown that will keep all of us indoors for a limited period of time, will stop the exposure of more people to the virus. Although the steps taken by the government has slowed the rate of infection a bit, it is not enough. The new numbers of confirmed cases are proof that too many people are still moving around, and the spread continues. A lockdown would mean no walks in the park or strolls on the beach, no sports, no playgrounds and even no supermarkets. If enforced effectively, such a drastic measure wi </p><p>Only a full lockdown that will keep all of us indoors for a limited period of time, will stop the exposure of more people to the virus.</p> <p>Although the steps taken by the government has slowed the rate of infection a bit, it is not enough. The new numbers of confirmed cases are proof that too many people are still moving around, and the spread continues.</p> <p>A lockdown would mean no walks in the park or strolls on the beach, no sports, no playgrounds and even no supermarkets.&nbsp;</p> <p>If enforced effectively, such a drastic measure will shorten the time needed to fight the epidemic and the Health Ministry might ease the restriction after the Passover holiday, at the end of next month.</p> <p>Alternatively, all Israelis should be given surgical masks to ensure those who are carriers of the virus do not infect others. This seems to have been effective in Japan and South Korea, where confirmed cases remained low. Unfortunately, Israel doesn't have a stock big enough to share with every resident.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6263796> </p><p>During the discussions held at the Prime Minister's Office, a slue of excuses as to why the lockdown should not be imposed, were presented.</p> <p>Participants expressed concern for the effect the lack of exercise might have on the population, clearly not comprehending the danger we are all facing.</p> <p>The number of coronavirus patients will grow 32-fold by the end of the holiday. This must stop.</p> <p>Stop the nonsensical bickering over details or we will all become sick.&nbsp;</p> <p><br></p> message 57013800 The real threat of Israeli civil war Opinion: During previous crises, a sense of unity and external threats brought the country back from the brink, but now both the left and the right are entrenched in their positions strengthened only by their mutual hatred Ron Ben Yishai https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57013800,00.html Wed, 25 Mar 2020 12:36:56 +03:00 As Israelis grapple with the two major events currently upon us - the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing political stalemate - another major crisis is emerging. As emotions run high the danger of violence increases. Anarchy might break out, with Israelis disregarding government directives and public unrest on a large scale or worse, we may see the eruption of a civil war. The threat is exacerbated by the continuously eroding public trust in the government and its leader and the growing extremism and deepening rift between the right-wing, religious bloc and the center-left and Arabs. Political demonstrations have already begun, with the center-left Israelis protesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's political maneuverings and his supporters, in turn, protesting the moves by the "anyone but Bibi" camp. We can expect to see a rise in the level of violence in such demonstrations, deteriorating into increasing verbal and physical attacks and even the use of weapons. Such incidents will put us firmly on the path to civil war. History warns us such a nightmare can easily be upon us. It was just 37 years ago when Peace Now activist Emil Grunzweig was murdered at an anti-government demonstration in Jerusalem. In 1983, protesters marched against the First Lebanon War, demanding Prime Minister Menachem Begin to adopt the conclusions of the commission of inquiry into his government's policies and Israel's responsibility for the massacre perpetrated by the Christian militias in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. The demonstrators demanded the firing of then-defense minister Ariel Sharon who was found responsible for some of the war's mishaps. A group of right-wingers congregated on the side of the road leading to the Prime Minister's Office. Among them was far-right activist Yona Avrushmi, who was holding a hand grenade acquired from a member of the IDF. Avrushmi hurled the grenade into the crowd of demonstrators, killing Grünzweig and wounding seven otstian militias in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut.</p> <p>The demonstrators demanded the firing of then-defense minister Ariel Sharon who was found responsible for some of the war's mishaps.</p> <p>A group of right-wingers congregated on the side of the road leading to the Prime Minister's Office. Among them was far-right activist Yona Avrushmi, who was holding a hand grenade acquired from a member of the IDF.</p> <p>Avrushmi hurled the grenade into the crowd of demonstrators, killing &nbsp;Grünzweig and wounding seven others. Ironically, the wounded included Netanyahu ally Yuval Steinitz, who since then crossed the lines to become a vehement right-winger.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6248358> </p><p>At his trial, Avrushmi claimed to have been affected by toxic incitement during his IDF service that suggested the left was preventing Begin and his government from winning the war.</p> <p>Grunzweig's murder shocked people on both sides of the political divide. After initially blaming one another, both camps were careful not to compound the situation further, understanding Israeli society was on a slippery slope.&nbsp;</p> <p>Still, the event indicates the speed and ease with which anger and frustration can turn to violence.&nbsp;</p> <p>In our short history, we have come dangerously close to civil war a few times.</p> <p>From the earliest days of Independence when the underground movements were dismantled and Irgun ship Altalena came under fire off the coast of Tel Aviv as it was carrying troops and arms for the militia, through the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a far-right activist at a 1995 peace rally, and during the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip settlements in 2005.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6248359> </p><p>Basic unity among Israelis and the understanding that a compromise must be found, and the existence of external threats prevented further deterioration.</p> <p>But now moderation and responsibility and message 57010780 Israel's battle experience can help defeat coronavirus Opinion: A war against an unseen enemy is not too different from one against a foreign power; we must have discipline, a clear plan, accurate intelligence and most of all trust in the country's leadership Amos Yadlin https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57010780,00.html Tue, 24 Mar 2020 23:30:6 +03:00 If Israel were facing a third Lebanon war, an Iranian nuclear incursion or another confrontation in Gaza, we would surely have known how to handle security matters and how to manage the entire crisis thanks to our accumulated experience. The challenge we are now facing is not by nature an issue of security (although its implications for the country’s security are undeniable), but it could potentially be tackled using the mechanisms Israel has developed in the past to deal with security threats. This campaign against the coronavirus is the most critical one Israel has conducted since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. And while a virus is not an army, in order to defeat it it is vital to adopt the methods of previous leaders to manage dangerous and costly campaigns that were often filled with uncertainty. We must set two clear goals for this campaign. The first is protecting the lives and health of the public. The second is maintaining a functioning economy (including security preparedness should the need arise to defend ourselves) and resuming economic activity as soon as possible. There is a certain tension between these two goals, and so every decision must strike the perfect balance between the them. It likely that the wave of fatalities from the virus hasn’t yet reached its peak and could in fact continue for a few months. Researchers are predicting a second, more powerful outbreak in the fall that will go on well into the winter. Adopting this view, we are in the midst of a spring battle to halt the spread of the virus, followed perhaps by a reprieve in the summer, and a hard excruciating campaign in the fall and winter. To win this ongoing battle, we will need more than tactics that just buy us time. We will need an all-encompassing strategy for the whole of next year at the least, together with finding a proper balance between the health, economic, social, and perhaps security aspects of the crisis. Right now the biggest gap we are facing in our struggle against a spring battle to halt the spread of the virus, followed perhaps by a reprieve in the summer, and a hard excruciating campaign in the fall and winter.</p> <p>To win this ongoing battle, we will need more than tactics that just buy us time. We will need an all-encompassing strategy for the whole of next year at the least, together with finding a proper balance between the health, economic, social, and perhaps security aspects of the crisis.</p> <p>Right now the biggest gap we are facing in our struggle against the virus is in intelligence; the picture of the epidemic we have right now focuses only on known cases of the virus, while the actual number is probably much, much higher.</p> <p>Managing the crisis using only partial and unverified information will cause extensive damage to the economy, while good intelligence can guarantee focused accurate actions against the epidemic.</p> <p>The foggy intelligence leaves Israel at a disadvantage. The current number of daily tests does not allow for an efficient response, negates a reliable reading of the current situation, and condemns many people unlikely to contract the virus into quarantine.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6244279> </p><p>We need reliable data on the members of the population who have beaten the virus - many of them have done so without showing any symptoms whatsoever. It is hard to believe there are only a handful of people in Israel who have actually recovered from coronavirus.</p> <p>This population, which is most likely immune to being reinfected, could be the key to rekindling Israel’s economy.</p> <p>Correctly managing the timeline of this campaign is essential; Israel’s concept of security is that of a short war with a clear conclusion and against the virus this cannot be the case.&nbsp;</p> <p>The public is not updated either on the government’s timeline or on what actions the government will take in the future. But unlike past campaigns fought against external enemies, fighting a virus means all the information, along with the government's strategy, must be laid out for the public.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6244280> </p><p>The government is still not using all the means at its disposal. For various reasons, it was decided not to take advantage of the defense establishment until a relatively late stage, despite its proven capabilities in managing national emergencies.</p> <p>Using the IDF to help fight the epidemic is the right move, as long as it's used correctly and focuses on areas where it has a relative advantage.</p> <p>In the end, not unlike in times of war, the fate of the war lies in the public’s resilience, the trust it has in its government, and its adherence to emergency protocols.</p> <p>Abusing the crisis in order to impose unneeded restrictions on the country’s national foundations and basic rights will only serve to erode the public’s willingness to face the further hardships that are an integral part of the fight against the virus.&nbsp;</p> <p>As in the past, the public will act responsibly and will cooperate for as long as its trust in Israel’s leadership remains.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin is the director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and served as head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate.</em></p> <p><br></p> message 57009400 Edelstein's dangerous High Court game The speaker's authority must not be used to compromise Israel's democracy, but the Knesset speaker tried to do just that and the judiciary stopped him by ruling as it had Ben-Dror Yemini https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57009400,00.html Tue, 24 Mar 2020 19:18:0 +03:00 A new parliament can elect a new speaker. That is a simple fact and in line with the Knesset rules. But outgoing Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein - in a first for our country - seems to think the position is his own private property. A majority of MKs demand their right to vote in a new speaker while he persists in his refusal to allow a vote. This is the kind of rare occasion that demands judiciary intervention. We have seen cases in which the courts have inserted themselves in political matters in order to protect the minority. Now they must step in and protect the majority. On Monday, the High Court, in response to a motion brought before it, opted to politely question Edelstein about whether he would be willing to permit a vote for a new speaker to take place by Wednesday. His rebuttal: "I will not succumb to your ultimatum." This is an insolent response to a problem of his own creation and a needless provocation. Edelstein has been trying at the behest of his master Benjamin Netanyahu to trample over a parliamentary majority. The court was quick to react and within minutes ruled that the speaker must allow the vote to take place. This was not an act of judicial overreach. It was the necessary response to attempts to circumvent the will of the voters and the elected parliamentary majority. Edelstein's excuses are lame. He latched on to a section of the Knesset regulations that states that a speaker must be voted in before a new government is installed. And yes, it is within the purview of the speaker to decide the timetable of Knesset votes, but by the same logic Edelstein could block a new government that is not to his liking from assuming power simply because he can hijack the schedule and prevent a vote. The speaker's authority must not be used in a manner that compromises Israel's democracy. Edelstein tried to do just that and the court stopped him. This is not a parliamentary debate between the left and right sides of the political spectrum. Many stalled.</p> <p>And yes, it is within the purview of the speaker to decide the timetable of Knesset votes, but by the same logic Edelstein could block a new government that is not to his liking from assuming power simply because he can hijack the schedule and prevent a vote.</p> <p>The speaker's authority must not be used in a manner that compromises Israel's democracy. Edelstein tried to do just that and the court stopped him. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>This is not a parliamentary debate between the left and right sides of the political spectrum.</p> <p><br></p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6254822> </p><p>Many on the right have come out in support of the court and have said its rulings must be upheld even when they are not to their camp's liking. They could be critical of the High Court's decision but would not go so far as insubordination.</p> <p>Tourism Minister Yariv Levine, who has long coveted the position of justice minister, was front and center in defiance of the ruling. He urged the speaker to rebuff the court's questions and tweeted some insults at the judges.</p> <p>We are on the verge of a constitutional crisis. Edelstein may persist in his refusal despite the ruling. For all our sakes, I hope he does not.</p> <p>Despite many valid arguments against it, a unity government may be the only solution to the danger caused by the speaker and his political allies.</p> <p>Netanyahu's proposition to the Blue &amp; White party may well be - as many suspect - nothing more than a scam. The prime minister may never agree to vacate his seat and allow his political opponents to assume power, but unity is still the best option.</p> <p>A narrow government will result in entrenchment by both political camps; incitement will follow and the war on our judicial system will cause more damage.</p> <p>Behind the scenes, Netanyahu is running the show; he alone is navigating his people towards a collision with the judicial system.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even so, a narrow government that message 57004960 The truth about digital tracking to fight coronavirus Opinion: It is important to appreciate that the historical information for each mobile subscription is already and routinely available to the cellular companies and only includes cellular locations and does not require any collection of information from the device itself Shalev Hulio https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57004960,00.html Mon, 23 Mar 2020 23:25:20 +03:00 The use of technology in a medical context to monitor the spread of the coronavirus raises concerns about privacy. But using it properly and proportionately will not compromise privacy and can really save lives. The biggest coronavirus challenges facing countries are primarily the correct mapping of those infected, the regulation of testing, the prediction of future infections and the subsequent effective provision of medical services. The decision approved by the Israeli government allows the Ministry of Health to obtain two critical pieces of data to help stem the spread of the virus - locating the places where those patients have been and mapping the people who were in their vicinity. All that is needed for a reliable and simple epidemiological investigation is - with the knowledge of the patient - to access cellular companies' data and understand where the patient had been in the previous 14 days. It is important to appreciate that the historical information for each mobile subscription is already and routinely available to the cellular companies. This information only includes cellular locations for that subscription and does not require any collection of information from the device itself. In other words, with the exception of retrieving the historical location of the device, there is no listening in on calls and no data, personal information or messages that exist on the device can be gathered. Through mapping the path of the patient, we can see the people around them and they can be directly alerted. So how does all this not violate privacy? The data that is analyzed does not include any identifying information such as name or identification number. In fact, not even a phone number is collected: The analysis is based on the SIM card number that exists on the device. Once the analysis is complete, the Ministry of Health will have a fairly accurate statistic of the number of people who were in the vicinity of verified patients, at this stage without any pound them and they can be directly alerted.</p> <p>So how does all this not violate privacy? The data that is analyzed does not include any identifying information such as name or identification number.</p> <p>In fact, not even a phone number is collected: The analysis is based on the SIM card number that exists on the device.</p> <p>Once the analysis is complete, the Ministry of Health will have a fairly accurate statistic of the number of people who were in the vicinity of verified patients, at this stage without any personal information or identification.</p> <p>The next step is to send a message to people with a high potential for infection who were in the vicinity of the patient and ask them to go into self-isolation.</p> <p>This will allow the authorities to build a "tree of infection." At present, medical officials are still struggling to track the source of infection for a number of patients.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6236977> </p><p>Proper mapping of information will mean that the source of infection can be located, which will in turn halt the spread of the epidemic.&nbsp;</p> <p>Allowing the use of technological tracking is a brave and unpopular decision, but I am convinced that in times of crisis such as the present, it is the right one. Proven technologies must be used to deal with this pandemic and save lives. It is the hour and it is necessary.</p> <p><em>Shalev Hulio is the founder and CEO of NSO Group Technologies</em></p> <p><br></p> <p><br></p> message 57004700 Netanyahu's coronavirus circus Opinion: Without a proper rehabilitation plan for the economy and better handling of the health crisis, the day we declare victory over the virus will also be the day we announce the death of countless Israelis businesses Avigdor Liberman https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57004700,00.html Mon, 23 Mar 2020 22:47:49 +03:00 Like any Israeli citizen these days, I am full of pride and admiration for our medical teams. They are some of the best in the world, working day and night to fight the deadly coronavirus. But could we say the same about our decision-makers? The answer is a resounding "no." This circus run by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is ridiculous and insulting and only serves to increase feelings of uncertainty among the people of Israel. We are caught in an absurd situation, with a caretaker government in situ for more than a year, a paralyzed Knesset, no functioning security cabinet and no oversight of the government actions. This is an ideal scenario for Netanyahu. He doesn't care about the checks and balances that serve as a core component of every democratic state. Netanyahu's fear and hysteria at the possible replacement of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, his threats and verbal bullying as he conditions unity government talks on keeping his lackey in place, only prove how critical it is now to remove Edelstein. More alarming, our healthcare is in the hands of a Haredi rabbi turned minister who is neither a doctor nor a professional and only cares about one sector of the population. The prime minister lives in the shadow of his indictments, political interests and scaremongering, usurping precious air time every evening and immersing himself in political polls, laying the groundwork for a fourth election. I ask you, Mr. Netanyahu: where is your relief plan for small businesses? Why is the board of the Bank of Israel silent on matters such as the state of the economy or credit lines for Israelis? Under what circumstances will we begin to restore our economy, restoring parts of it at least to normal functioning even with the threat of the coronavirus? Some predictions already warn of one million people unemployed, zero percent growth and a budget deficit nearing NIS 50 billion (around $13 billion). In other words, there's a re, Mr. Netanyahu: where is your relief plan for small businesses? Why is the board of the Bank of Israel silent on matters such as the state of the economy or credit lines for Israelis?</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6248299> </p><p>Under what circumstances will we begin to restore our economy, restoring parts of it at least to normal functioning even with the threat of the coronavirus?</p> <p>Some predictions already warn of one million people unemployed, zero percent growth and a budget deficit nearing NIS 50 billion (around $13 billion).</p> <p>In other words, there's a real danger of a deep recession that could set the economy back to the 1970s.</p> <p>Tourism, hotels, airlines, small businesses (including over 13,000 restaurants) and other industries will never be the same. Significant damage will be done to savings, pensions and funds.</p> <p>Without an organized plan to rehabilitate the economy and better handling of the coronavirus crisis, the day we announce victory over COVID-19 will also be the day we announce the death of countless businesses in Israel.</p> <p>The real issue is how much to put into the fiscal safety net that the government gives the public and the cost to the Israeli economy.</p> <p>Austria, a country about the size of Israel, has managed to allocate funds amounting to 38 billion euros, about NIS 150 billion.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6248300> </p><p>Do we even have NIS 150 billion? Should the state issue bonds to the public as it used to help the country recover from its wars? Should it increase the deficit? How will this affect Israel's economic rating in the international markets?</p> <p>These are all very complicated questions that require determination and national consensus.&nbsp;</p> <p>I am devising a full economic plan that I will make public soon, but we must immediately take the following steps:</p> <p>1. A declared commitment by the government that salaried workers making under NIS 6,000 a month will be fully compensated.</p> <p>2. Cancellation of municipal taxes, VAT and income tax for industries particularly affected by the crisis or businesses that have stopped operating under government directives.</p> <p>It is absurd when restaurants, gyms, barbershops and beauty salons that cannot generate income due to the government's directives must still pay government taxes.</p> <p>These steps are not possible without ministers and MKs setting a personal example by taking pay cuts and limiting their staff.</p> <p>We must set our egos aside and establish a unity government immediately to fight the coronavirus and save the economy.</p> <p>Israel has come out of major crises before despite people's political differences. There is no reason we cannot do it again - together, hand in hand.</p> <p><br></p> <p><em>Avigdor Liberman is a member of the Knesset and head of the Yisrael Beytenu party</em></p> message 57003870 Israel's economy needs resuscitation, not Netanyahu's outdated ideals Opinion: With a mere one-tenth of the amount needed to save jobs, pensions, companies and businesses the prime minister is committing an unforgivable crime that could bring country to its knees Sever Plocker https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57003870,00.html Mon, 23 Mar 2020 20:10:18 +03:00 In his televised speeches and interviews, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spreads dire prophecies of doom. He recently spoke of a world crisis, the likes of which has not been seen since the Dark Ages. At the same time though, Netanyahu expresses his absolute refusal to raise government spending during the coronavirus pandemic, claiming it could cause inflation. A lesson in economics the prime minister learned from the teachings of conservative economist Milton Friedman. This contradiction should cause concern. Israel is either on the edge of the precipice, heading towards a disaster of biblical proportions, or it is bound by sound economic principles and must maintain a manageable deficit in preparation for better days ahead. Netanyahu's stance is in contradiction to that of Governor of the Bank of Israel Amir Yaron as well as most of the country's leading experts, and is not just wrong. Under the circumstances, it is outright dangerous and could bring Israel's economy to its knees. Germany has always been fiscally restrained. It recently announced a 600 billion euro bail out plan, constituting 15% of its GDP. But it is not only the amount that is important. It is the intent of the government that counts. A 2008 fund has been reopened for the purchase of stocks and bonds in order to provide credit lines for businesses and prevent mass lay-offs. Germany's Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier declared there are no lines his government would not cross in order to save the German workers - including buying out failing private companies. The Trump administration is cooperating with Congress on a relief bill providing for companies and individuals, comprising 20% of the GDP, all to keep the economy on track and assist families and wage earners who are now out of work. But in Israel, the Netanyahu government is fine with mass layoffs and lost paychecks, lost revenue from exports, loss of pensions and savings, the devastation of the high-tech industry and mores in order to save the German workers - including buying out failing private companies.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Trump administration is cooperating with Congress on a relief bill providing for companies and individuals, comprising 20% of the GDP, all to keep the economy on track and assist families and wage earners who are now out of work.</p> <p>But in Israel, the Netanyahu government is fine with mass layoffs and lost paychecks, lost revenue from exports, loss of pensions and savings, the devastation of the high-tech industry and more – that all could have been averted had there been any aid announced.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6231478> </p><p>Israel's economy is on life support due to the coronavirus and in urgent need of treatment. It must receive assistance and resuscitation relatively akin to the scope demonstrated by the U.S. and Germany, to the tune of NIS 150-200 billion.</p> <p>Only Netanyahu shows no inclination to advance such a plan. His limit is 1.5% of GDP, just NIS 20 billion. This is one-tenth of what is needed, guided by an obsolete economic theory and the political bind in which he is entangled.&nbsp;</p> <p>In his effort to cling onto power Netanyahu is committing an unforgivable crime that could kill the patient and for which we will all have to pay. &nbsp;</p> message 56998990 Coronavirus is not the only deadly disease Opinion: Many people require ongoing treatment for a host of ailments, but physicians are being told to delay care that Health Ministry officials deem not crucial during a pandemic, and people will die and they too deserve proper care Prof. Ariel Finkelstein https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56998990,00.html Sun, 22 Mar 2020 23:38:58 +03:00 My fellow physicians and I are acutely aware of the extent of the emergency through which we are living and fully agree with the Health Ministry that medical teams must be protected from infection with the coronavirus, a directive that is unfortunately only partially enforced. We believe there must be dedicated and separate spaces in every hospital that will allow treatment with the proper equipment, including ventilators, for those in need. This will contain the spread of the disease, which is the only way we can win this battle. But there must be a well thought out administration of these needs so that the collateral damage that we are already experiencing, to patients who are in need of care that is not related to the coronavirus is kept to a minimum. This includes patients whose care is being postponed or marginalized and whose prognosis for recovery could be irreparably compromised and who could even face death. These people require real medical care, not only in cases of cancer or heart disease, but in many other ailments as well. If we do not take the time to consider this problem, we may soon find that while we were perhaps successful in minimizing disease and even death from the coronavirus, we would be paying the price in fatalities as a result of other illnesses at a rate we have never seen before, including such cases in which medical science had invested years of knowledge and resources to overcome. I raise this issue now because there are limitations imposed on doctors and medical teams by the people in the position to make decisions – and I still do not know who they are. We are being told to follow criteria when deciding who we can treat. We are being told by others what constitutes necessary medical intervention and what does not. We are also forced into quarantine having come into brief contact with coronavirus patients. I myself am writing from my quarantine after 12 days of isolation. I went into the ER to check on a dear friend who had beposition to make decisions – and I still do not know who they are.</p> <p>We are being told to follow criteria when deciding who we can treat. We are being told by others what constitutes necessary medical intervention and what does not. &nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6221952> </p><p>We are also forced into quarantine having come into brief contact with coronavirus patients.</p> <p>I myself am writing from my quarantine after 12 days of isolation. I went into the ER to check on a dear friend who had been confirmed positive for coronavirus. I only saw him for a couple of minutes but was forced into isolation nonetheless.</p> <p>People in the decision-making positions must urgently modify their instructions to the medical establishment so that dedicated coronavirus treatment beds are prepared away from the general population, and at the same time ongoing care can be provided to the many patients who continue to seek our aid.&nbsp;</p> <p>Medical teams must, of course, be protected from infection but a brief encounter with a coronavirus patient should not automatically be followed by a quarantine period. The chances that I was infected by my minutes-long visit with my friend are minimal.</p> <p>Only by adopting this manner of managing our health system will we be able to function at our best, treat those in urgent need while minimizing the dramatic rise in fatalities that many of our patients will be facing without the ongoing care they need.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6221953> </p><p>I believe the collapse of our medical system, which we are already witnessing, can be mitigated if we adopt the necessary measures.</p> <p>I wish all of us success in the face of this challenge and hope we show the necessary wisdom, responsibility and above all commitment needed in our joint mission to win this war.&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>Prof. Ariel Finkelstein is Director of Cardiac Catheterization at Ichilov Hospital, Tel Aviv</strong></em></p> <p><br>< message 56995180 Netanyahu's unity problem: No one trusts him Analysis: The prime minister is not believed either by both his opponents or his allies, having gone back on his word too many times; even a political novice like Gantz knows his promises cannot be counted on Yuval Karni https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56995180,00.html Sun, 22 Mar 2020 12:33:47 +03:00 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday revealed details of his Likud party's proposed terms for a unity government with Blue & White that failed to convince the second largest political party to agree. There is an issue of trust that prevents any such agreement. Netanyahu is no longer trusted by allies and opponents alike. He has gone back on his word too many times. Netanyahu claimed agreements have already been reached on a government that will serve for three years, led for the first 18 months by Netanyahu with a Likud finance minister, while Blue & White will receive the foreign and defense ministries. According to the prime minister, in September 2021, the roles will be changed and Blue & White leader Benny Gantz will become prime minister with a member of his party taking over at the Finance Ministry, while the defense and foreign ministries will be given to the Likud. Netanyahu also said the two factions would hold an equal number of portfolios to ensure no one faction has a majority over the other in government votes. But Blue & White has thus far not accepted the prime minister's offer and is continuing on its declared path to replace Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein with one of its own lawmakers. This move will give it in an advantage over Likud and enable it to legislate laws that will block Netanyahu from becoming a candidate for prime minister while criminal indictments against him still stand. Meanwile Netanyahu has threatened Blue & White that any attempt to change the Knesset speaker would immediately put an end to all unity talks. The state of emergency posed by the coronavirus pandemic requires a unity government and a fourth election campaign should be taken off the table. Blue & White leader Benny Gantz is a political novice compared to Netanyahu but is not so naïve as to trust his main political opponent. Gantz, who last week was tapped President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government, was prepared to enter a unity government for tKnesset speaker would immediately put an end to all unity talks.</p> <p>The state of emergency posed by the coronavirus pandemic requires a unity government and a fourth election campaign should be taken off the table.</p> <p>Blue &amp; White leader Benny Gantz is a political novice compared to Netanyahu but is not so naïve as to trust his main political opponent.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6218639> </p><p>Gantz, who last week was tapped President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government, was prepared to enter a unity government for the good of the nation in a time of crisis, even at the cost of dismantling his own political party.&nbsp;</p> <p>But he does not believe Netanyahu when he claims he will vacate the prime minister's office when the time comes.</p> <p>Keenly aware of his well-earned reputation, Netanyahu has opted to make negotiations public in the hopes that his declared promises will carry more weight.</p> <p>Whether this is enough to bring Gantz back to the negotiating table will become evident in the next few days.</p> <p><br></p> message 56992520 No democracy, no worries Opinion: With the government implementing a myriad of anti-democratic measures meant to halt the spread of the coronavirus, we need to realize that Israel’s political system has been a casualty of the crisis Tsur Shezaf https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56992520,00.html Sat, 21 Mar 2020 23:13:54 +03:00 Last Saturday night, at about 10pm, a friend called me: "The allegedly serially corrupt official at the head of the government has announced it has approved the surveillance of civilians, just like in the darkest of totalitarian states." I didn't really have much to say in reply - I thought I'd misheard over the deafening panic that is currently washing over the country. At 1 am, he called me again: “While everybody was sleeping, he [meaning Justice Minister Amir Ohana] announced the closure of the courts system and only an idiot can't see what’s coming.” Because I was awake when he called, I knew exactly what he was talking about. Ohana, the so-called justice minister, had decided to declare an emergency across Israel’s legal system in order to delay his master’s disgrace in court. That is his job after all, and it appears that the coronavirus is a handy tool for a useful idiot. I could hear him sigh down the phone. “How fortunate we are to have this coronavirus,” he said. “Now there's apparently no need to burn down parliament to turn a democracy into a dictatorship.” I couldn’t help but disagree. The fear of coronavirus is a sickness that thrives on panic, media fear-mongering and opportunistic politicians who wish to use this terror for their own ends. The coronavirus outbreak seems to have shone a light on the fragility of democracy in the digital age, revealing a political system that stands on the precipice of total annihilation as it did in Europe almost 100 years ago. Just 20 years ago everyone was talking about the diverse opportunities the Internet could offer, while today, it is helping to put our battered democracy on the executioner’s block. On Sunday, I read that the government has approved regulations allowing police officers to fine those who violate the quarantine or congregation restrictions imposed by the government and the Health Ministry. They also passed regulations that allow court hearings to be carried out without physical attendancee almost 100 years ago.</p> <p>Just 20 years ago everyone was talking about the diverse opportunities the Internet could offer, while today, it is helping to put our battered democracy on the executioner’s block.</p> <p>On Sunday, I read that the government has approved regulations allowing police officers to fine those who violate the quarantine or congregation restrictions imposed by the government and the Health Ministry.</p> <p>They also passed regulations that allow court hearings to be carried out without physical attendance by the detainee, while visiting rights for prisoners and detainees have been suspended. Even their lawyers are prohibited from seeing them, forcing them to settle for legal consultation over the phone instead.</p> <p>Later I read that the government intended to monitor and track the phones of coronavirus patients in order to see where they were and where they might be going.</p> <DIV id=tvElement1857452></DIV><p><br></p> <p><br></p> <p>The government of course stresses that the information won’t be saved anywhere else but in their data banks.</p> <p>I calmed myself down, telling myself there was no way such information could be used against law-abiding citizens (primarily &nbsp;because the courts are closed).&nbsp;</p> <p>So, we tracked some people, arrested others, and locked up the rest, what are you getting all jumpy for? It’s all in the name of efficiency after all. Now sit at home and do as you're told, and Netanyahu and co. will tell you what that is.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6212481> </p><p>Further affirming my fears, I opened the newspaper the very next day and saw that indeed legions of inspectors have been dispatched to protect us from the afflicted who violate their quarantine, mainly by fining them thousands of shekels that they don’t have since they can’t go to work anyway.</p> <p>How relieved I was to see that the punishment only applied to the secular population and the ultra-Orthodox were free to do as they message 56989490 Wanted: A dedicated official to handle Israel's coronavirus crisis Opinion: It is not place of Health Ministry to tell public when and how much to shop for food while government lacks proper crisis management; ex-IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot has the experience needed to coordinate all aspects of the battle after his years in service Yossi Yehoshua https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56989490,00.html Sat, 21 Mar 2020 9:39:22 +03:00 On Saturday afternoon, in the midst of Shabbat, Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov issued a statement calling on the public not to rush to supermarkets and stock up. "There is no need for that, and supermarkets will remain open no matter what," Bar-Siman-Tov announced as he asked the public to behave responsibly. The director-general has been the voice of calm and has carried out his duties well, but is it the place of the Health Ministry to determine if and when food stores will be open in a national emergency? No, of course not. Managing a crisis such as the one presented by the coronavirus has revealed a gap in the national leadership. This is not a military threat, but it demands an overview and understanding of all government functions, including the Defense Ministry and the military with an emphasis on securing the home front. Experts say we are facing a long-term crisis that now appears too big for the Health Ministry and the National Security Council to deal with despite all of their efforts. It is not too late. The government must put in place a mechanism to coordinate all of its ministries' needs as well as deal with questions of jurisdiction and responsibility as they arise. Let us be clear: The Health Ministry and its staff have been doing an excellent job and as of Sunday morning, we just passed the 200 mark for people infected with the coronavirus. Unfortunately, that number will grow along with the impact on society, and this is the time to prepare a function for inter-ministerial coordination that has a broad scope to address needs, respond to public concerns and prepare for all future scenarios. Now is the time to enlist the help of former IDF chief Gadi Eizenkot who currently does not hold public office and is professional and authoritative and has a good knowledge of the systems involved. The former military chief will likely not steal the limelight from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a properly functioning csociety, and this is the time to prepare a function for inter-ministerial coordination that has a broad scope to address needs, respond to public concerns and prepare for all future scenarios.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6208123> </p><p>Now is the time to enlist the help of former IDF chief Gadi Eizenkot who currently does not hold public office and is professional and authoritative and has a good knowledge of the systems involved.&nbsp;</p> <p>The former military chief will likely not steal the limelight from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6208124> </p><p>In a properly functioning county, Netanyahu would already have tapped Eisenkot to lead the crisis response team. People who have spoken to the general have said he willing to do whatever he is asked .</p> <p>The former chief of staff is well versed in managing emergencies - as he has showed during his military service - and is the right man for the job.</p> <p><br></p> message 56988110 They built Israel, will we fight for them against coronavirus? Opinion: With the spread of the virus in Israel, this long-time medical escort to the oldest patients in the healthcare system is terrified that they will be cast aside, as usually are even when the country is not experiencing a crisis Shoshana Chen https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56988110,00.html Fri, 20 Mar 2020 23:16:46 +03:00 What will become of the elderly, who built this country, in Israel's healthcare system? Who is to decide who receives treatment and to what degree? As an old warhorse when it comes to escorting patients through the halls of hospitals, the one thing that truly scares me is the care will they eventually receive. Is the risk of the coronavirus greater to the elderly due their advanced age and prior ailments, or is it due to a tragic consideration that it is more worthwhile to save the life of a younger patient? In Italy, this is the case. Let us not pretty things up, Israel’s healthcare system has had a shortage of mechanical ventilator machines for over 20 years now. Since these machines are the most expansive equipment to purchase and maintain, hospitals have found a temporary solution, with the oldest patients paying the price. Instead of admitting the elderly to the Intensive Care Unit where there is one staff member for every two or three patients, the healthcare system came up with an alternative solution, a sort of “enhanced Internal ward” within a ward, manned by one nurse for every six or seven or sometimes even more patients, who are connected to a breathing apparatus. Usually it’s the elderly who are sent first from the ICU to these “enhanced wards.” What will happen now when the most severe coronavirus cases require respiratory aid? Will young and middle-aged patients receive the same treatment as the elderly? Who determines priority and with what criteria? In recent years, there has been a rise in the level of contempt for the elderly in Israel, along with a disregard for their rights, their history, their lives, their contributions to society and their families who love them. From an economic standpoint, giving treatment to the elderly is a lengthy and complex issue. It is more expensive than treating a younger patient who will most likely cost the public system far less, not to mention that an older patient might carry additional health issues due p> <p>In recent years, there has been a rise in the level of contempt for the elderly in Israel, along with a disregard for their rights, their history, their lives, their contributions to society and their families who love them.</p> <p>From an economic standpoint, giving treatment to the elderly is a lengthy and complex issue. It is more expensive than treating a younger patient who will most likely cost the public system far less, not to mention that an older patient might carry additional health issues due to the virus after recovery, piling on even more expense.</p> <p><br></p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6206435> </p><p>The trend to disrespect the older population has gained traction over the last few years, even prior to the outbreak. What will happen to them during a crisis, when society risks their very lives to save beds, money and those oh-so-precious breathing machines.</p> <p>Anyone who has ever nursed an elderly patient knows that it is a battle of for life and death even during normal times, and doubly so during a time of crisis such as now.&nbsp;</p> <p>Not only because it requires a constant fight for medical attention, but because sometimes the decisions made must be examined closely.</p> <p>What will happen now that each hospitalized patient is allowed only one person to accompany them? Will these escorts be able to cope with the pressure? Will the patients’ families be up to the difficult task? &nbsp;What price with the elderly pay? The imposed limitations are justified, but none the less problematic.</p> <p>The people in the vanguard of the health system’s fight against the coronavirus must take into account all the implications and bring in a moral arbiter whose primary concern is the well being of the patients, not the price tag.</p> <p>To the families all I can say is, don’t panic, fight for your loved ones and ask if home treatment is an option and ask if there is anything you can do to help your community - because the health of th message 56985350 Mixed messages in the ultra-Orthodox population over coronavirus Analysis: Some rabbis are adamant that heeding the Health Ministry's instructions is enough, while others have issued unprecedented instructions and restrictive measures meant to keep their people safe from the ravages of the virus Kobi Nachshoni https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56985350,00.html Fri, 20 Mar 2020 8:22:10 +03:00 The ultra-Orthodox population is still having a hard time accepting the implications of the Health Ministry’s instructions regarding the coronavirus for their religious and communal way of life. As Israelis face increasingly restrictive measures meant to ensure their safety, the ultra-Orthodox population only grows more confused regarding synagogue activities and public prayers. While more conservative circles such as those led by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Ministry of Religious Services have stated that it is acceptable to participate in public prayers as long as there are no more than 10 people present, the rest of the religious population is urging the closure of all synagogues and settling for prayers alone at home. The main reason for this decision is pikuah nefesh - the principle in Jewish law that saving a life supersedes all else - and having prayer groups puts the entire population at very real risk. The call to halt prayer groups and close down the synagogues began with two of the most prominent rabbis in Israel, Eliezer Melamed and David Stav- the chairman of the Tzohar organization that aims to bridge the gap between religious and secular Jews. Their call has since spread to the Haredi population and even found its way the Gur Hasidim, the biggest and most influential ultra-Orthodox community in Israel, which closed down its main synagogue on Wednesday due to the virus. Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira, another prominent rabbi, has also called for the population to stay indoors and avoid praying in groups, stressing that they should adhere to the Health Ministry's instructions even if it interferes with preparations for Passover, which begins on April 8. Due to the virus' spread, Tel Aviv’s Great Synagogue will be decontaminated once a week, while the city’s liberal orthodox community, Yachad, has dispersed its prayer groups, suggesting instead each participant take part in the prayers using video chat from home. Rabbi Dr. Binyamin Lau, yet anotherroups, stressing that they should adhere to the Health Ministry's instructions even if it interferes with preparations for Passover, which begins on April 8.</p> <p>Due to the virus' spread, Tel Aviv’s Great Synagogue will be decontaminated once a week, while the city’s liberal orthodox community, Yachad, has dispersed its prayer groups, suggesting instead each participant take part in the prayers using video chat from home.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6202960> </p><p>Rabbi Dr. Binyamin Lau, yet another prominent rabbi, took part in the Yachad’s first ever prayer group in this format, which had more than 100 worshipers participating via video chat.&nbsp;</p> <p>Rabbi Lau has also instructed his community to leave their cell phones on even during Shabbat should they need to be told to enter quarantine.&nbsp;</p> message 56984330 Israel needs a real plan to fight coronavirus Opinion: There is no strategic scheme in place to fight the spread of the virus and mass testing must be conducted to separate the sick from the well and prevent more infection, but the Israeli authorities are taking one hesitant step at a time Nadav Eyal https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56984330,00.html Thu, 19 Mar 2020 23:48:4 +03:00 Regimes that operate without parliamentary oversight tend to assault democratic institutions and preside over societies plagued by poverty, oppression and a shorter life expectancy. The most dangerous ailment to society is the lack of democracy. This must be said. The coronavirus pandemic could perhaps have been prevented had there been a free press in China. The doctor who discovered the virus would have been able to get the word out to the public. But Wuhan's mayor was more interested in breaking a world record for the largest number of people at one meal, and the doctor who was trying to sound the alarm was taken away by the police. Four months on we are faced with thousands of deaths, millions of unemployed and this is just the beginning. Under the guise of the coronavirus crisis, the Knesset must not be allowed to close its doors and the live televised broadcasts cannot replace oversight of this government's activities. The principles of democracy must be observed and with full transparency. What Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein did on Wednesday, when he prevented the Knesset plenum from voting on key committees is abhorrent. In times of crisis, democracy must be protected and assaults on it in the dead of night, just because someone does not like the majority decision, must not be allowed to take place. There must be public trust in government at the time of a pandemic. And the pandemic is here. Make no mistake. The number of confirmed new cases keeps increasing and will continue to do so irrespective of closures and quarantines. Most of the country is already on lock down with schools suspended and parents out of work. The promises of government aid will also expire, and mass bankruptcies and economic ruin are a given. Health Ministry officials acted correctly when they imposed restrictions early and bought us some time, but to what end? The equipment needed for mass testing was not procured and a strategic plan to fight the outbreak was never put intoof confirmed new cases keeps increasing and will continue to do so irrespective of closures and quarantines.&nbsp;</p> <p>Most of the country is already on lock down with schools suspended and parents out of work. The promises of government aid will also expire, and mass bankruptcies and economic ruin are a given.</p> <p>Health Ministry officials acted correctly when they imposed restrictions early and bought us some time, but to what end? The equipment needed for mass testing was not procured and a strategic plan to fight the outbreak was never put into place.</p> <p>And while Benjamin Netanyahu expresses support for the Health Ministry measures, it appears health officials decided that mass testing was unnecessary and did not plan for it.</p> <p>This is an evolving problem and Israel has no plan to tackle it. Taiwan had a plan, as did South Korea and China. Even the United Kingdom had a plan - albeit a terrible and dangerous one.</p> <p>Israel is taking steps, but it has no master plan in place at all.</p> <p>If Israelis were to be put on a three-week lock down, what then? There would likely be many new infections from family members, as most of the coronavirus spread has been within families.&nbsp;</p> <p>A simple calculation of the progression of the disease - anywhere from 28 to 52 days of illness with 3-5 days of gestation, would mean closure would have to be complete for two months.</p> <p>There will not be a full lock down for that long, so as soon as people are allowed out, more will be infected, and the spread of the virus will continue while people become more stressed and have fewer means.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6206451> </p><p>The head of the Health Ministry MosheBar-Siman-Tov said the full lock-down of Israelis in their homes will allow the medical establishment time to learn more about the coronavirus and prepare better for its impact, but that is an unacceptable statement.&nbsp;</p> <p>The ministry is using the equivalent of a nuclear weapon on the population by enforcing a lock down without a strategic plan.</p> <p>Health officials must learn on the fly or, as one WHO executive said, “If you need to be right before you move you will never win. Perfection is the enemy of the good when it comes to emergency management."</p> <p>The Health Ministry wants to stand still. It has been blocking university and HMO labs from testing samples for coronavirus for weeks. Thought their testing may not be perfect and may miss some asymptomatic carriers, they are still all we have.</p> <p>In Asia, people's temperatures are taken every time they enter a building. Is that a perfect system? No, and not all fever is a result of coronavirus, but you do what you can with what you have.</p> <p>South Korea tested all 200,000 members of a religious sect infected by the virus. Those found to have been infected were isolated and treated. The WHO recommends this course of action to all governments. There are no shortcuts. The aim is to reach a point where there are no new cases. This is the way to proceed.</p> <p>Only mass testing has proven effective. China will probably see a second wave of the outbreak, but their strategic plan is in place and anyone infected will be quickly located and isolated from the healthy population.</p> <p>We need those plans in place. China, Taiwan, and South Korea are back at work despite 100 new cases diagnosed each day. We have to get to the point this country can also get back to work.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel is different from Italy, France, and Spain. We are a small, agile country with an ability to move quickly. Our emergency systems have barely been put to work on the crisis. Instead of fighting the virus we are still trying to decide our next move.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6206452> </p><p>The Health Ministry may have a brilliant and inexpensive plan drawn up. People there are working around the clock and trying their best.&nbsp;</p> <p>If such a plan does exist, it must be message 56981350 Netanyahu and Edelstein are threatening Israeli democracy Opinion: It is time for judicial activism to halt attempts by Knesset minority, lead by the interim speaker and prime minister, to disregard results of democratic elections that did not go in their favor, and show them that their efforts to cling to power are unsuccessful Ben-Dror Yemini https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56981350,00.html Thu, 19 Mar 2020 15:53:50 +03:00 While the coronavirus pandemic rages on, Israel is facing a challenge to its democracy of the kind most countries fear most, a party in power that refuses to accept election results that did not go in their favor. Leading the march is outgoing Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who subverts parliamentary practices in order to secure his own position of power and refuses to allow a newly elected Knesset majority vote against him. He is discounting the majority - and this more than a symbolic act. Edelstein has suspended all Knesset activity. There are no committees, no discussions, no legislative work and no oversight of the government. To him, elections results can go to hell. The speaker is even using the coronavirus outbreak as an excuse for his dangerous behavior. Even President Reuven Rivlin, a former Knesset Speaker himself, appealed to him. Though I have always been a critic of Judicial activism, with the Supreme Court overstepping its authority and interfering in political and governmental actions, claiming it is standing up for the weaker minority. But now I call on this Judicial activism to appear in full force and protect the majority from the tyranny of the minority asserting its power and refusing to let go. Edelstein is not alone in this. Politicians have hit rock bottom. The need for a unity government is clear and the people's will has reflected that. A fourth election cycle at the time of a pandemic is suicidal, yet our elected leaders persist in their political games. Netanyahu though is more to blame than anyone else. Most Israelis came out in March to vote against him. He must move aside and allow new leadership to take the reins. Still, he insists he alone can rule. To hell with democracy. Even if a unity government is formed, with a rotating prime minister, he wants to be the first to head it and for two years. Why should he be allowed to force himself on the people who have spoken and voted against him? I have often read dire warnings that Nolitical games.</p> <p>Netanyahu though is more to blame than anyone else. Most Israelis came out in March to vote against him. He must move aside and allow new leadership to take the reins.</p> <p>Still, he insists he alone can rule. To hell with democracy. Even if a unity government is formed, with a rotating prime minister, he wants to be the first to head it and for two years. Why should he be allowed to force himself on the people who have spoken and voted against him?</p> <p>I have often read dire warnings that Netanyahu is a danger to democracy. I was loathe to believe it. But the behavior of both Edelstein and Netanyahu is certainly an indication that we may be heading in that direction.</p> <p><br></p> message 56977260 Israel is in all-out war with the coronavirus Opinion: The government is busy patting itself on the back on the way the crisis is being handled, but there are quite a few changes that need to be made if we are to come out of it relatively unscathed Giora Eiland https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56977260,00.html Wed, 18 Mar 2020 23:25:13 +03:00 The rate of the coronavirus spread, coupled with the sudden shift to stricter public instructions, serves to prove two things: Israel is not great when it comes to handling a pandemic, and the way the Israeli system is working must change. The government’s representatives, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are all proud of our success, constantly comparing the situation here to the one in Italy. Only, it’s not all that impressive to compare yourself to a country where the situation is at its worst. Why aren’t officials comparing Israel to countries such as South Korea or Taiwan? In general, any comparison between two countries is bound to create a distortion in information, as the basic conditions of each country are fundamentally different. Israel’s advantage for example, lays in the fact that there is only one gateway into the country, and that is through the Ben-Gurion Airport. Although that advantage was, to our dismay, mishandled at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. The second advantage lost to us was the long period of warning that we had, especially when compared to the amount of time South Korea and Taiwan had. The government is continuing its routine, albeit on an emergency footing, because the virus is a health issue. Therefore the Health Ministry has taken all the burden upon itself, and is the one leading the fight against the virus’ spread. It was obvious a long time ago that this is all-out war, a scenario that demands the country to pool all of its resources, with the most important resource being knowledge and experience. From the very beginning, the country needed to delegate responsibility to different organizations depending on their skills and experiences. The tracking of known virus cases should have been given to the Shin Bet security service or the IDF's 8200 intelligence unit weeks ago. The purchase of equipment to defend the public should have been the responsibility of the Defense Ministry, as there is no other onds the country to pool all of its resources, with the most important resource being knowledge and experience.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6194583> </p><p>From the very beginning, the country needed to delegate responsibility to different organizations depending on their skills and experiences. The tracking of known virus cases should have been given to the Shin Bet security service or the IDF's 8200 intelligence unit weeks ago.</p> <p>The purchase of equipment to defend the public should have been the responsibility of the Defense Ministry, as there is no other organization in the country with such a well-oiled system to procure goods from abroad.&nbsp;</p> <p>Managing a total war scenario is based on splitting the burden to controllable and clearly defined tasks which in turn will be the responsibility of the country’s organizations based on their experience and skills.</p> <p>Priorities must also be set, the country’s medical staff must be the first to be protected, while tasks which take a long time to accomplish must take precedence, like ordering protective gear from overseas, or training personnel to tackle new challenges during the crisis.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6194584> </p><p>As accomplished as Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Simon Tov is, he cannot hope to tackle this crisis alone, and so during an event such as this it is appropriate to put together a small cabinet whose sole purpose is to deal with the outbreak.</p> <p>That same cabinet need to delegate assignments, putting the most qualified person at the head of each respective team.</p> <p>At least two bodies should be appointed as soon as possible.&nbsp;</p> <p>One will be dedicated to technological advancements such as new virus test kits and remote thermal testing, while the other should be devoted to researching critical subjects relating to the virus, such as whether a person who recovered from the corona is now immune or not.</p> <p>Since the cris message 56976480 Knesset work stalled as Likud refuses to accept its minority role Opinion: Edelstein is complicit in his parties maneuvers to prevent the Knesset majority from passing bills that will block Netanyahu from another election bid in complete disregard of democracy and the law Moran Azulay https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56976480,00.html Wed, 18 Mar 2020 20:30:37 +03:00 Without a moment's hesitation, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein adjourned the Knesset plenum Wednesday without any parliamentary work having been accomplished. Acting on political interests of a faction in the minority, that was unwilling to accept the results of the March 2 elections, the speaker closed- down parliament in a manner never- before seen in Israel and perhaps beyond. The Knesset has always been open for business no matter what the crisis, be it war or terror but now it was adjourned, after a total of 4 minutes, in two separate sessions. The schedule posted for the parliamentary day remained fairly light considering the immense challenges posed by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, but no discussion was to be had on the steps being taken and the ramifications to the economy or society at large. Hiding behind an engineered dispute, Likud has managed to shut down any Knesset activity having lost their majority to the opposing camp. The Speaker had plenty of options to keep the plenum open and to move committee elections forward, including the Finance and Foreign Affairs & Defense committees as well as other oversight responsibilities that are part and parcel of the Knesset's job. It appears the public can wait because if Likud does not have the majority on its side, it will just lock-up parliament. Vast amounts of money had been spent over the past few years to improve the opinion Israelis have of their representatives. Edelstein himself was first to implore his members to conduct themselves honorably to that end. But his recent conduct undermines his earlier efforts and has proven him and his political party to be disrespectful of the law and the parliament. As the clock is ticking on the 28 days Blue & White leader Benny Gantz was given to secure a coalition government, Likud sees its mission now to foil any legislation that will block Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from running for his high office once again. Blue & White have the Knesself was first to implore his members to conduct themselves honorably to that end. &nbsp;</p> <p>But his recent conduct undermines his earlier efforts and has proven him and his political party to be disrespectful of the law and the parliament.</p> <p>As the clock is ticking on the 28 days Blue &amp; White leader Benny Gantz was given to secure a coalition government, Likud sees its mission now to foil any legislation that will block Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from running for his high office once again.</p> <p>Blue &amp; White have the Knesset majority needed to legislate laws that state anyone under criminal indictment can not be elected Prime Minister.&nbsp;</p> <p>Netanyahu is facing charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, but Justice Minister and close ally Amir Ohana has already caused a four-month postponement of the trial, using measures that have raised concern among some Israelis.&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Blue &amp; White party failed to react to the maneuvers of Edelstein and the Likud in a manner that would have been understood by the public. They could have staged a sit-in or appealed immediately to the supreme court.&nbsp;</p> <p>Seeing the Knesset ruled by a minority to such a degree is a political first for this county.</p> <p><br></p> message 56974530 A new Middle East will rise from coronavirus crisis Analysis: The countries of the region have a symbiotic relationship with each other for good or ill, and if the virus’ spread affects even one of its neighbors, Israel could be the one to suffer the consequences Ksenia Svetlova https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56974530,00.html Wed, 18 Mar 2020 14:43:16 +03:00 The coronavirus has caught the Middle East with its pants down, even before the pandemic Lebanon declared bankruptcy after their prime minister, Hassan Diab, announced his country’s inability to pay back its debts. At the beginning of 2020 Egypt passed the threshold of 100 million people, which the regime there sees as nothing less than a threat to its own national security. Iraq was in the midst of an economical crisis and none stop rioting due to the government’s ineptitude. In Jordan the public’s discontent grew due to the rise in living expenses, unemployment, and the country’s shoddy infrastructure. And as for Syria, well we all know the tragedy there. The big question is whether Middle East governments be able to survive the turmoil that threatens to engulf the entire global economy. Jordan and Egypt are not only close neighbors to Israel, nor are they only strategic partners in the country’s fight against terrorism, they also two of the region’s most influential powers, meaning that anything happening within their borders will most likely effect Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the entire Middle East as a whole. As of Tuesday, there had only been 166 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Egypt, although a Canadian research estimates that the true number of infected is closer to 20,000. Anybody who knows anything about Egypt knows that the country’s public healthcare system is starved of modernization, and that many Egyptian citizens don’t have access to any medical services whatsoever, never mind the means to find out whether they have been infected by the virus. Egypt has closed down schools, malls and shopping centers, and has also quarantined several neighborhoods and villages where with confirmed outbreaks of coronavirus. But can a country with an unemployment rate of 11.5% truly survive a prolonged quarantine coupled with financial paralysis? What happens if the scenario in Italy replicates itself in Egypt? Anyone who supports Egypt as the piccess to any medical services whatsoever, never mind the means to find out whether they have been infected by the virus.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6206442> </p><p>Egypt has closed down schools, malls and shopping centers, and has also quarantined several neighborhoods and villages where with confirmed outbreaks of coronavirus.&nbsp;</p> <p>But can a country with an unemployment rate of 11.5% truly survive a prolonged quarantine coupled with financial paralysis? What happens if the scenario in Italy replicates itself in Egypt?</p> <p>Anyone who supports Egypt as the pinnacle of radical Islamic resistance in the Middle East should be concerned. While the entire world finds itself in an economical decline, Cairo will surely need a monumental financial care package in order to help deal with the crisis.</p> <p>In Jordan, which houses hundred of thousands of refugees from Syria and Iraq, together with refugee camps for displaced Palestinians, the situation is not much better.&nbsp;</p> <p>While the official numbers of infected in Jordan stands at 34, there is no way to know what the situation is at the refugee camps, poorest neighborhoods, and towns far away from Jordan’s capital of Amman.&nbsp;</p> <p>Jordan closed off its borders and the infected have been put in quarantine, but it is clear a major outbreak in the country is only a matter of time.</p> <p>Shortly before the outbreak, Jordan received a financial care package from Qatar that includes work permits for thousand of Jordanians to allow them to work in the rich Arab country But Qatar has also closed its gates due to the crisis.</p> <p>Israel must keep a close eye on the events within its neighbors’ borders. Jordan has kept the shared frontier quiet for years, but if the country slips into chaos <br> - which seems more of a reality than ever due to the civil unrest over the cost of living - the border between the two countries could be breached.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6206443> < message 56973070 Obeying the Talmud in coronavirus crisis Opinion: The insistence on keeping the ultra-Orthodox education institutions open it a time where gatherings are strictly prohibited is sacrilege that contradicts the basic Talmudic principle of saving a life above everything else Chen Artzi Sror https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56973070,00.html Wed, 18 Mar 2020 10:46:3 +03:00 The Jewish mind loves to read every sentence four times, to dig for meaning deep underground, too bad viruses can’t learn Talmud. A virus doesn’t act according to any Talmudic law. On the contrary, a virus just spreads, a fact that makes the indifference of the religious and ultra-Orthodox population to the virus all the more vexing and worrying. While Israel’s students are in quarantine, yeshiva students continue to study in large groups; while the streets are supposed to be empty of people, the streets of Bnei Brak are buzzing with people as if everything were normal. The insistence on keeping the ultra-Orthodox education institutions open at a time like this is pure anarchism. The main principle driving these students to continue to study is their resolve to not “cancel the Torah”, an undoubtedly important Talmudic principle, which as of right now contradicts two even more important Talmudic principles, “do not commit sacrilege” and “save a life.” There is a very real danger that packed crowds could cause an outbreak that will end in disaster. Furthermore any protection from the virus’ spread is based on mutual responsibility towards one another, where the majority gets together to help protect the few. When a group takes itself out of the equation, for the sake of God, all they do is give a bad name to the Torah and the commandments. It is up to Health Minister Yaakov Litzman to use his connections in the ultra-Orthodox sector in order to stop any gatherings and not to cut corners. We need leadership, we need leaders to use their entire political weight and gravitas to make the most influential rabbis see the severity of the situation, and they in turn could influence dozens of people in their community. There are also other problems in other areas, for we will soon bear witness to how many people contracted the virus at Purim readings and parties. We can already see that some coronavirus cases visited synagogues, and women and men both breaking quarantidership, we need leaders to use their entire political weight and gravitas to make the most influential rabbis see the severity of the situation, and they in turn could influence dozens of people in their community.</p> <p>There are also other problems in other areas, for we will soon bear witness to how many people contracted the virus at Purim readings and parties.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6236898> </p><p>We can already see that some coronavirus cases visited synagogues, and women and men both breaking quarantine to bathe in the mikveh - turning a place of spiritual purity into a site of death and disease.</p> <p>For me, like many others, a locked synagogue is an unpleasant image. Yes, it is hard both spiritually and mentally, but these are unusual times that requires us to to take unusual steps.&nbsp;</p> <p>This is the time for rabbis of all streams of Judaism to take control and stop any gatherings. Consult with the professionals, don’t act wise, don’t pray, just save lives.</p> message 56970720 Now is not the time to attack Netanyahu Opinion: As the coronavirus keeps spreading worldwide, some journalists have leveled irresponsible criticism at the PM and the tough decisions he must make; this stems from their anti-Netanyahu obsession and undermines public trust during a major crisis Ben-Dror Yemini https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56970720,00.html Tue, 17 Mar 2020 23:26:59 +03:00 A journalist could uncharitably be defined as someone who knows almost nothing about almost anything. But we shouldn’t take that definition too seriously, for most journalists are primarily gatherers and brokers of information. They do honest work, but they definitely don’t know everything. The coronavirus crisis is a time of trial. Politicians, just like journalists, don’t know everything. They must make crucial decisions under conditions of great uncertainty. Israel has adopted a policy of flattening the curve of coronavirus carriers by staggering the onset of infections. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands at the helm of this operation – he listens to various experts, who sometimes contradict one another, and calls the shots. Are there those who use the crisis to serve their own political needs? I doubt whether this is the question we should be asking right now. It is quite possible that Netanyahu is taking the opportunity to give us another exhibition of his authority and leadership. After all, he is the one with his hands on the tiller. A much more compelling question would be whether the premier’s decisions are driven by external interests. Allow me to argue that the answer to that question would be a resounding “no.” Yet Netanyahu is not clean of personal and political interests. He has proven too many times in the past that he is ready to incite and instigate as long as it serves him. But the coronavirus? That’s a whole different story. Netanyahu doesn’t want to get off the stage so fast. He wants to succeed. He might be a political crook, but he won’t make decisions that would send masses of people to their deaths. That wouldn’t do much good for him politically. Those in the news business should display more humility, because when leading journalists start to question whether Netanyahu is driving such extreme preventive measures out of personal interest to ensure his political survival – they’re crossing a red line. Most journalists don’t have different story.</p> <p>Netanyahu doesn’t want to get off the stage so fast. He wants to succeed. He might be a political crook, but he won’t make decisions that would send masses of people to their deaths. That wouldn’t do much good for him politically.</p> <p>Those in the news business should display more humility, because when leading journalists start to question whether Netanyahu is driving such extreme preventive measures out of personal interest to ensure his political survival – they’re crossing a red line.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6190683> </p><p>Most journalists don’t have a clue what they’re talking about when it comes to this outbreak. They are not experts in the field.</p> <p>They can and should present the situation to the world and they are also allowed to voice their criticism, but some journalists level irresponsible criticism that stems from their anti-Netanyahu obsession.</p> <p>China and South Korea were able to stymie the spread of the virus using draconian measures and European countries are following suit. So even without knowing what tomorrow will bring, it is clear that Netanyahu’s decisions are so far completely reasonable.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6190684> </p><p>The spread of the virus is still ongoing and it is not yet entirely clear what measure was the most effective, but it’s hard to find a smidgen of personal interest in Netanyahu’s decisions.</p> <p>In times of emergency, leaders make decisions that seem the most efficient in their eyes, and even if it turns out that one of them - including Netanyahu - had made the wrong decision, it would not be because of personal interests or political survival.</p> <p>Netanyahu has proven in the past that his decision-making process is affected by both pressures from his environment and personal interests, but the same rules that play in Israeli politics don’t apply for times of a mega-crisis.</p> <p>So, we can lambaste his politics and detest his policies but th message 56966640 How Tehran failed to stop coronavirus outbreak As death tally through Islamic Republic rises and more of its citizens fall ill with COVID-19, faults of Ayatollah regeime surface, raising question about its conduct amid the pandemic Associated Press https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56966640,00.html Tue, 17 Mar 2020 11:56:10 +03:00 Appearing before the cameras coughing and sweating profusely, the man leading Iran's response to the new coronavirus outbreak promised it was of no danger to his country. "Quarantines belong to the Stone Age," Iraj Harirchi insisted. A day later, he himself would be in quarantine from the virus. Harirchi's story is a microcosm of what has happened in Iran amid the coronavirus pandemic. Roughly nine out of 10 cases in the Middle East come from the Islamic Republic, which has reported nearly 15,000 people infected and at least 853 deaths amid fears that many cases may still be underreported. While most people who are infected recover, the virus spreads rapidly and can kill the elderly and those with breathing problems or other underlying illnesses. Days of denial gave the virus time to spread in Iran as the country marked the 41st anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution with mass demonstrations and then held a parliamentary election in which authorities desperately sought to boost turnout. Although Iran has one of the Mideast's best medical services, its hospitals appear to be overwhelmed and authorities have asked for 172 million masks from abroad. It also has asked the International Monetary Fund for $5 billion, the first such loan for Iran since 1962. The Islamic Republic has an opportunity to limit the virus as the Persian New Year, Nowruz, approaches, but authorities appear unable or unwilling to stop travel between major cities as local towns affected by the virus threaten to set up their own checkpoints to turn away or even attack outsiders. That's in sharp contrast to Iraq and Lebanon, Iranian allies that have restricted movement while facing a fraction of the reported infections. What happens next will not only affect Iran's civilian government and Shi'ite theocracy, whose officials already have fallen ill, but also the wider world. "Judging by the fact that Iran has now asked for a $5 billion loan from the IMF, this speaks to how dire the situation iss to turn away or even attack outsiders. That's in sharp contrast to Iraq and Lebanon, Iranian allies that have restricted movement while facing a fraction of the reported infections.</p> <p>What happens next will not only affect Iran's civilian government and Shi'ite theocracy, whose officials already have fallen ill, but also the wider world.</p> <p>"Judging by the fact that Iran has now asked for a $5 billion loan from the IMF, this speaks to how dire the situation is getting and them realizing that it's spun out of control," said Dr. Amir A. Afkhami, an associate professor at George Washington University who studies Iran.</p> <h3 class = "pHeader">'PATIENT ZERO' AND AN ELECTION</h3> <p>In a country like Iran, where the state controls all broadcasters and journalists face restrictions, many things about the outbreak remain unknown. Chief among them is who was "patient zero" - the person who was first infected with the coronavirus in the nation, and where.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6202964> </p><p>Public comments point to the city of Qom, 125 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Tehran, on the country's windswept central desert plateau. How the virus arrived there remains in question.</p> <p>Authorities suggested that perhaps an Iranian businessman returned from China with the virus. Qom is home to major Shi'ite seminaries that draw Chinese students. It also is along a $2.7 billion high-speed train route that a Chinese company is building, a sign of China's outreach to Tehran amid crushing U.S. sanctions. China is also constructing a solar power plant there.</p> <p>From late January, worries could be seen on the front page of the pro-reform newspaper Aftab-e Yazd.</p> <p>"Mysterious virus at Iran's gates," its banner headline warned as China began a lockdown to control the outbreak. Yet travel between China and Iran continued.</p> <p>The first two coronavirus cases were reported Feb. 19, with the announcement that both died in Qom. Since it can take up to two weeks to show symptoms, they could have gotten it in early February.</p> <p>Iranian authorities haven't offered any details. Iranian analysts suggest it might be because the country marked the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution during that period.</p> <p>Iran also held parliamentary elections Feb. 21. The government desperately wanted a large turnout to boost its legitimacy after shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing all 176 people on board. Days earlier, a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad killed top Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, further shaking its credibility.</p> <p>Iranian authorities already had disqualified thousands of candidates from running, ultimately tilting the election to conservatives. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei even later accused foreign enemies of trying to influence turnout with the outbreak.</p> <p>"The pretext of an illness and virus was used, and their media did not miss the slightest opportunity to discourage people from voting," Khamenei said.</p> <p>The election saw Iran's lowest turnout since the revolution, with some voters wearing the masks that everyone soon would want, but people already were dying and fear was spreading.</p> <h3 class = "pHeader">SHRINES AND HAZMAT SUITS</h3> <p>Qom long has been the stronghold of Iran's Shi'ite clergy. A focal point of devotion is the golden-domed shrine of Fatima Masumeh, a Shi'ite saint. Crowds pray there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, touching and kissing the shrine.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6202965> </p><p>That raises the risks for visitors. In Saudi Arabia, authorities have closed off access to the holiest sites to Islam over concerns the virus may spread there. Churches, mosques, temples, and shrines around the world have been closed or subject to stringent disinfecting campaigns.</p> <p>However, in Qom and elsewhere in Iran, the shrines stayed open despite civilian health authorities demanding they close. Mohammad Saidi, who oversees the Fatima Masumeh shrine, insinuated that closing shrines was part of a plot against Shi'ites by U.S. President Donald Trump.</p> <p>"Defeating Qom is the dream of treacherous Trump and his domestic mercenaries, but this dream will not be realized even in their grave," Saidi said on Feb. 22.</p> <p>That decision likely gave the virus time to spread. Police later arrested those who posted videos online of themselves licking and kissing shrines.</p> <p>"The city's religious epithet - "the nest of the Prophet and his family" - was intended to reassure believers worldwide that it was insulated against epidemics and other disasters," wrote Mehdi Khalaji, a Qom-trained Shi'ite theologian who is an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy. "If early reports about the spread of the coronavirus prove correct, Qom's status as the ideological capital of the Islamic Revolution helped make it the pathogen's transmitting center to the rest of Iran and at least seven other countries."</p> <p>Since then, hazmat-suited workers have fogged disinfectant and cleaned the shrines. Some mosques even hand out alcohol as a disinfectant to the poor despite Islam forbidding its consumption.</p> <p>By Monday night, the Fatima Masumeh shrine and another one in Mashhad had closed, only to see online videos purport to show hard-line faithful storming the shrines' courtyard, demanding they open. But by that point, the virus had spread, reaching the highest levels of Iran's theocracy.</p> <h3 class = "pHeader">'THE SITUATION IS TERRIBLE HERE AND I HOPE GOD HELPS US'</h3> <p>Like blood from a beating heart, the infections in Qom coursed out across Iran in maps later shared by the Health Ministry. In Tehran, the virus began moving through the government and the Shi'ite theocracy.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6202966> </p><p>Among those first infected was Harirchi, the deputy health minister who tested positive only a day after he downplayed the virus in a televised news conference.</p> <p>It didn't stop there.</p> <p>The virus killed Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi, described as a close confidant of Khamenei. Hadi Khosroshahi, Iran's former ambassador to the Vatican, and Ahmad Tuyserkani, an adviser to Iran's judiciary chief, also died along with several lawmakers and a member of the country's Assembly of Experts.</p> <p>The sick included Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, better known as "Sister Mary," the English-speaking spokeswoman for the students who seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 in the 444-day hostage crisis. The virus also infected senior Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and two other Cabinet members, along with Revolutionary Guard members and doctors.</p> <p>Soon, even 80-year-old Khamenei was seen wearing disposable gloves at a tree-planting ceremony. President Hassan Rouhani, 71, was pictured at a teleconference with the nearest official a few meters (several feet) away.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6202967> </p><p>The numbers soared. Iran's death rate from the virus now is higher than in other hard-hit nations.</p> <p>That could be from the initial lack of testing kits and facilities. It also could be from what outside experts, Tehran lawmakers and other local leaders have alleged from the start: Iran was hiding the true number of infections and deaths.</p> <p>Authorities initially denied that, especially after the BBC's Persian service said deaths far exceeded those reported at the beginning of the crisis, but denial appeared to weaken over time.</p> <p>"We found out a little late that the coronavirus had entered Iran because we mistook it for the flu," Reza Malekzadeh, a deputy health minister, later said.</p> <p>A man in Qom filmed rows of bodies in black bags and caskets awaiting burial for days in a trench lined with lime. He alleged all had tested positive for the coronavirus, although officials later said the bodies had been held pending test results.</p> <p>"The situat message 56963490 Coronavirus may prove way out for Netanyahu Opinion: When the gravity of Israel's healthcare system becomes evident, the prime minister would surely prefer to have Gantz at his side to share blame for its almost certain collapse; as it stands, neither will be able to form a government without the other Nahum Barnea https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56963490,00.html Mon, 16 Mar 2020 23:37:26 +03:00 Thanks to the coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue & White leader Benny Gantz do not have to shake hands. The last time they shared a rather stiff handshake was when President Reuven Rivlin urged them to consider a unity government after the September 2019 elections. The coronavirus has also put to bed, at least for now, any notion of a viable fourth election cycle. Still Gantz, despite his 61-MK support, is unlikely to form a coalition, and Netanyahu, despite his loyal parliamentary bloc, is also unable to do so. But considering a unity government now is also a challenge. Gantz does not trust Netanyahu. His primary takeaway from his first year in politics is that the Likud leader does not value the truth. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has learned from his 30 years in politics that truth is unimportant. You can be untruthful and just move on. The prime minister has little respect for his opponent's political talents. The two are also inconsistent when it comes to expressing their views. Netanyahu is said to become more extreme after spending a weekend at home with his family and Gantz becomes more obstinate after he meets with his party leadership. Other politicians have also taken a stand making their sometimes unpopular positions clear. President Reuven Rivlin has already tried his best to bring about a unity government. After the mandate to form a government was given to Gantz, the major parties will once again begin to discuss unity. Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman has already said such a government should be made up of the two largest parties only. This would be seen as a positive move by the vast majority of voters, but Netanyahu is unlikely to agree to leave his right-wing and religious bloc members out of the circle of power. Initially, Netanyahu tried to entice Blue & White into an emergency cabinet without any real authority, but that was rejected. For now, Gantz has been tasked with forming a coalition. His party is set in to discuss unity.&nbsp;</p> <p>Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman has already said such a government should be made up of the two largest parties only. This would be seen as a positive move by the vast majority of voters, but Netanyahu is unlikely to agree to leave his right-wing and religious bloc members out of the circle of power.</p> <p>Initially, Netanyahu tried to entice Blue &amp; White into an emergency cabinet without any real authority, but that was rejected.</p> <p>For now, Gantz has been tasked with forming a coalition. His party is set to replace the Knesset speaker and crucial parliamentary committee heads.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6193303> </p><p>On the Likud side, Justice Minister Amir Ohana has suspended court hearings and provided his boss with a few months' delay before his criminal trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust is to begin.</p> <p>Edelstein, like Netanyahu, is clinging on for dear life and refusing to vacate the speaker's chair. The two behave like their positions were God-given and not the result of a democratic process.</p> <p>In 2013, Yuli Edelstein, then a Likud member of Knesset hoping to secure an appointment as speaker, explained that Reuven Rivlin, who occupied the chair at the time, must be removed because he may influence the vote for a new president, a position Rivlin was hoping to fill.</p> <p>Edelstein's concern than, for the integrity of the democratic system was touching but is now nowhere to be found.&nbsp;</p> <p>Coronavirus might prove the way out of a bind.</p> <p>The prime minister has been hearing the projections of experts who tell him Israel is heading in the same direction as Italy.</p> <p>Hospitals may collapse within weeks, with people dying and many more found to be sick.&nbsp;</p> <p>Netanyahu knows the compliments he has lavishly bestowed upon himself during his television appearances are no more than wishful thinking, and it would be wise and prudent on his part to have the Blu message 56963500 Fighting coronavirus should not weaken Israeli democracy Opinion: A caretaker government that does not have majority support from voters or members of Knesset must not be allowed to decide on measures that are undemocratic and compromise the civil rights of Israelis Ben-Dror Yemini https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56963500,00.html Mon, 16 Mar 2020 23:37:1 +03:00 These are not the best of times. We are combating a strain of coronavirus that is killing hundreds in Europe and destroying the world's economy. These are also the days when Israeli lawmakers are attempting to form a new government in the wake of the March 2 elections. An emergency requires emergency measures. No one can dispute that, and no one questions most but not all of the measures taken. The government's decision to track the movement of citizens using Israel's secret service is a step too far. We know where it starts but cannot say where or how it will end. Coronavirus obsessions aside, not everything should be permissible. There could be other measures used to track confirmed cases. A broad consensus is needed when a government overreaches as this one has, harming the privacy and basic rights of its citizens. But Israel has been governed by a caretaker government for a long time, one that cannot claim majority support in the public or in the Knesset. Such a government must not take these extraordinary steps. It simply does not have the authority. If Netanyahu wants extreme measures to be taken, he should gather leaders of all Knesset factions and see if they agree. If there was any certainty that tracking citizens with technology used to fight terror would guarantee a stop of the coronavirus spreading to more people, one could perhaps justify the move, but that is not the case. In addition to the thousands already quarantined who will now be tracked in this manner, many thousands more, who may be undiagnosed carriers are still out and about. Health Ministry directives banning gatherings, closing schools and businesses and suspending commerce are all in place in order to contain the spread of the disease. Employing anti-democratic measures is premature at the very least. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who is not supported by the majority of Knesset members, has said he would block a vote to elect a new speaker. The explanation he offered on Sunday who will now be tracked in this manner, many thousands more, who may be undiagnosed carriers are still out and about.</p> <p>Health Ministry directives banning gatherings, closing schools and businesses and suspending commerce are all in place in order to contain the spread of the disease.</p> <p>Employing anti-democratic measures is premature at the very least.&nbsp;</p> <p>Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who is not supported by the majority of Knesset members, has said he would block a vote to elect a new speaker.</p> <p>The explanation he offered on Sunday claimed his removal would harm efforts to form a unity government. But that is unbelievable.&nbsp;</p> <p>Edelstein's refusal to allow the newly elected parliament to fill important positions according to the majority vote is coming very close to an act of dictatorship.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6181217> </p><p>Democracy is more than a majority rule. It is built on basic laws and civil rights.</p> <p>This caretaker government that does not enjoy the support of the majority of voters, is assaulting the basic rights of Israelis and democracy itself.&nbsp;</p> <p><br></p> message 56958540 Israel's coronavirus response is okay, but it could be better Opinion: An inter-ministerial forum and Netanyahu's constant communication are a good way to handle the virus, but they need to overcome a muscle memory of trauma that leads to hoarding and panic buying - and get people off the streets Ron Ben-Yishai https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56958540,00.html Mon, 16 Mar 2020 11:1:47 +03:00 Early Saturday evening, I walked by Israel’s national theater Habima in central Tel Aviv. While the lights in the theater were on, the place itself and the adjacent square were devoid of people. Meanwhile, dozens of young people sat in close proximity to one another in the two coffee houses in front of the theater, and it made me think of the situation in Italy. Here was complete disregard on the part of both the coffee house patrons and owners to the harsh lessons of the Italians, who continued their everyday routines with nary a worry, despite the spread of the coronavirus throughout the world and their own prime minister’s warnings about large gatherings. This is why the precautions announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt the spread of the virus should be taken seriously and enforced. Still, one could argue that the coronavirus crisis in Israel is being handled well, with an inter-ministerial forum run by Netanyahu doing the same. Netanyahu’s communication with the public is a good way to handle the virus’ spread. It lifts the obscurity shrouding the entire situation, serves as an informative way for people to adopt a pattern of behavior that will protect themselves and their family, and lets them prepare for any unforeseen developments. The other, almost inevitable result of Netanyahu’s speeches, is the panicky shopping sprees that happen every time people finds themselves in a previously unknown situation. Hoarding food, clean water and even toilet paper is a kind of genetic PTSD humans inherited from those who were alive during World Wars I and II, and Spanish Flu of 1918. The ministers of Economy and Finance (Eli Cohen and Moshe Kahlon respectively) promise us there is enough food and medicine and that the market is ready to deal with a state of emergency. This is of no comfort to those who experienced the government’s underwhelming treatment of the population during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, during which businessmen from the prIMG id=captionImageElement6179909> </p><p>Hoarding food, clean water and even toilet paper is a kind of genetic PTSD humans inherited from those who were alive during World Wars I and II, and Spanish Flu of 1918.</p> <p>The ministers of Economy and Finance (Eli Cohen and Moshe Kahlon respectively) promise us there is enough food and medicine and that the market is ready to deal with a state of emergency.</p> <p>This is of no comfort to those who experienced the government’s underwhelming treatment of the population during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, during which businessmen from the private sector such as oligarch Arcadi Gaydamak took it upon themselves to provide assistance and care for the public that should have been the job of the government.</p> <p>And while the public has decided to show its mistrust by flocking to the supermarkets to stock up on the essentials, the panic is sure to subside once markets and pharmacies prove that the essential are being restocked and electricity and water services continue undisturbed.</p> <p>Still, Israel is ill-prepared for the crisis in which we find ourselves. &nbsp;</p> <p>A forum comprised of the different ministries is hardly enough to adequately run a country in such a time of uncertainty.&nbsp;</p> <p>During wartime, the Security Cabinet helps the prime minster to run the country, and the same should be done now during the coronavirus crisis.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even though Netanyahu is a superhero of televised communications skills, his tendency to mix politics and narcissistic messages ultimately undermines his efforts by causing the public to mistrust him.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6179910> </p><p>A budget is also needed to properly manage the economy, security and the IDF, all of which suffer form the current situation.&nbsp;</p> <p>This fact, coupled with the public’s belief that Netanyahu is abusing the panic for his own personal and political gain, is why we need a national emergency government.</p> <p>There are a few failures that can be easily and immediately remedied without much effort. Firstly, the digital tracking of potential coronavirus carriers through social media must be canceled - such an endeavor is not only wildly intrusive, it is also wasteful.</p> <p>Another problem that needs to be addressed urgently is the government’s disregard for the Arab sector.&nbsp;</p> <p>Netanyahu’s daily speeches are all in Hebrew, and there is no one empowered to provide the same service for the Arab population.</p> <p>One fifth of the population needs to receive the relevant information from local radio and television newscasts, unlike the rest of the Hebrew-speaking population, which has that information easily accessible to them in their native tongue.</p> <p>Incidentally, 13% of the doctors and medical staff dealing the coronavirus are Arabic speakers, which is more than enough reason to make all the information available in Arabic.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6179911> </p><p>The virus’ outbreak among Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank could very well decimate all our efforts to fight it, and of course no one should be ashamed to say there are humanitarian reasons for lending a hand to our neighbors.</p> <p>It is fair to say the Israel’s response to the virus is - as Defense Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Facebook - flexible, proportionate and adaptive. For no one can tell what tomorrow will bring, and whether or not we will see an explosion of the outbreak.</p> <p>Ultimately, no one can tell us where we are going. We must do what we can with the information in hand to minimize the economical and medical damage whose scale we cannot predict.&nbsp;</p> <p><br></p> message 56955900 China's coronavirus past is Israel's future Opinion: Experts speculated that the People's Republic would be best place to handle a crisis like this, as opposed to Western countries, which were thought to be ill-prepared both practically and mentally Omri Berman https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56955900,00.html Sun, 15 Mar 2020 23:57:22 +03:00 More than two months have passed since the coronavirus outbreak began in the city of Wuhan, located in China's Hubei province. But due to the apparent recent triumph of Asian countries over the virus, the rising concern today is focused on the West. Somehow this was to be expected. For years experts have speculated that China would be among those best suited to dealing with a crisis in the vein of the coronavirus. Unlike Western countries, which were thought to be ill-prepared, both practically and mentally. This is an existential war for both our lives and our economy, but the good news is that the coronavirus has at least proven to be beatable. In Asia the rate of infection has decreased dramatically, so much so that many people have returned to their normal daily routine,, proving that beating the pathogen is not a matter of if, but of when. And while life in China has pretty much returned to normal in the space of two months, the West is expected to take far longer to recover. To illustrate this point, one can draw compare Israel and China. For while China is a massive communist country with vast economical capabilities and almost absolute control over everything that goes on inside its borders, Israel is a small democratic country with looser control over its population and with far more limited economic abilities. Ultimately, making important governmental decisions could take longer in Israel due to the democratic nature of the country, as opposed to countries such as China, which are dictatorships in nature. In a crisis such as the spread of coronavirus, time is a critical factor. So how can Israel close the gap caused by the “problem” of democracy? The answer lays with the people. If the people of Israel act responsibly and heed the government’s strict instructions regarding quarantine, hygiene, and crowds, the crisis will be over soon. Yet the main reason for the halt of the virus’ spread in China has more to do with actions taken by the people rathes China, which are dictatorships in nature. In a crisis such as the spread of coronavirus, time is a critical factor.</p> <p>So how can Israel close the gap caused by the “problem” of democracy? &nbsp;The answer lays with the people.&nbsp;</p> <p>If the people of Israel act responsibly and heed the government’s strict instructions regarding quarantine, hygiene, and crowds, the crisis will be over soon.</p> <p>Yet the main reason for the halt of the virus’ spread in China has more to do with actions taken by the people rather than government policy.</p> <p>A great example is the personal face mask. While it’s true that the protection it offers from the virus is minimal, and as such wasn’t a precaution mandated by the Chinese government, it did serve as a psychological reminder to always protect yourself. Those who wear masks are more likely to always wash their hands, avoid dirt or come in physical contact with others.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6176133> </p><p>Does fighting the coronavirus really necessitate the closure of the entire economy and educational system? In China, with the exception of businesses and industries deemed vital by the government, everything was shut down. This includes restaurants, malls, companies, banks and the educational system.&nbsp;</p> <p>Everything was shut down for two months, with the market only recently returning to regular activity.</p> <p>Who paid the price? Small and independent business paid the heaviest price, while the big business who were hit hardest are the ones who were already struggling financially prior to the coronavirus crisis.</p> <p><br></p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6176134> </p><p>The precautions taken by Israel on its way to an all-out quarantine require people to adjust, be patient and be kind.</p> <p>While retail stores have closed, online business and deliveries have gained huge momentum, proving that if there is an Israeli trait we can count on as an advantage, it’s our creativity.< message 56954850 Israel needs war-time leadership to fight coronavirus Opinion: To win this war, we must enlist all the experience gained from decades of battling terror and ensure all government agencies work in harmony and are coordinating their response Sarit Rosenblum https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56954850,00.html Sun, 15 Mar 2020 20:36:46 +03:00 Recent days have made it clear that Israel is at war. We are facing an enemy that is no less elusive and merciless than enemies Israel has faced before - and is most likely a far more dangerous foe. To win this war, we must enlist all the experience gained from decades of battling terror and ensure all government agencies work in harmony and are coordinating their response. Despite the urgent need to deal with this growing crisis, the government has failed to ensure this takes place. As the coronavirus causes more and more damage to our lives, as hundreds of people more are expected to get sick and as fears increase for the health of thousands of medical and welfare workers, something in the Health Ministry has gone wrong. Instead of a steady hand at the top, there is uncertainty, contradictory recommendations and a sense of helplessness. Hospitals have shifted into panic mode as leaders of the healthcare establishment express doubts over the ability to treat large numbers of patients at the same time. With some health workers already benched due to fears of contamination, a shortage of vital medical equipment (with respirators heading that list; they have been purchased but will not arrive for months), there is little cause to wonder why the medical establishment is so concerned. Countries around the world - Israel among them - have been preparing for such a pandemic for years. According to a government directive issued after the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the Defense Ministry must oversee a panel of experts managing a pandemic as soon as it breaks out. The ministry is supposed to deploy the Home Front Command and a unit to ensure that the population has food supplies and essentials. This vital assignment of responsibility has not been carried out and it is unclear why. Many incidents that demonstrate the need for a centralized response have already been reported and only the defense establishment – with its manpower and resources - has the capability to manersee a panel of experts managing a pandemic as soon as it breaks out.&nbsp;</p> <p>The ministry is supposed to deploy the Home Front Command and a unit to ensure that the population has food supplies and essentials.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6176173> </p><p>This vital assignment of responsibility has not been carried out and it is unclear why.</p> <p>Many incidents that demonstrate the need for a centralized response have already been reported and only the defense establishment – with its manpower and resources - has the capability to manage the crisis.</p> <p>Neither the Health Ministry nor the National Security Council possesses the resources needed to ensure chaos does not break out and problems are not left unresolved.</p> <p>Israel is in a state of emergency and must respond accordingly.</p> <p>At this stage, the public is still coming to terms with its loss of school, culture, fun and a private life with personal freedoms - but that is not the real problem.</p> <p>There is a greater crisis looming, namely the collapse of our health system as the number of people infected and in need of hospital care increases.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6176174> </p><p>In order to give the population the best chance at surviving the coronavirus without letting our elderly community and our frailer citizens die, the crisis must be managed by a central body that is experienced, able to mitigate some of the pressure on hospitals, can ensure the future stability of the economy and when possible allow us to return to a normal routine.</p> <p>Before that can happen, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett must do more than show up at an occasional photo-op or press conference or post an occasional statement on social media about plans to set up a military field hospital to treat the expected number of sick. He must assume full responsibility for the crisis and begin to manage it.</p> <p>Even so, there is no indication that Bennett will be given the reins message 56954580 Orly Levy stabbed Israel's left-wing in the back Opinion: The head of the dying Gesher party gained her Knesset seat thanks to leftist voters, but not only did she commit a shocking act of betrayal, she also lied before the elections about her support for a narrow government Sima Kadmon https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56954580,00.html Sun, 15 Mar 2020 19:58:41 +03:00 Impudence, sheer opportunism, cowardice and treason. There is no word strong enough to describe the act perpetrated last week by Labor-Gesher-Meretz's No. 2 Orly Levy, when she announced she would not support a narrow government supported externally by the Joint List - a predominantly Arab party. And in order to ensure that she really twisted the knife, Levy said she no longer saw herself as obligated to a partnership with the left-wing Meretz party, a partnership she claimed "was forced upon me and my partner Amir Peretz by several elements, including the Blue & White party." Forced? Really? Dare we ask how exactly? Maybe with a gun pointed at your head? Were there threats or blackmail? You really didn't know what kind of party you were joining, or that it supported the formation of a narrow government? Reading Levy's request for "a divorce" might give the impression that she was the head of a party bursting with voters whom she offered as a dowry in exchange for a political partnership, but is now feeling cheated. The reality is completely different. If anyone forced themselves upon another, it was Levy upon Meretz. More specifically, it was Amir Peretz who forced her on Meretz due to his loyalty to his partnership with her. From the very beginning, Meretz saw Levy as a foreigner in its ranks. Levy, who didn’t even pass the electoral threshold during the second round of elections in September, behaves like she is a precious jewel and anyone who can win her should consider themselves to be the luckiest person alive. It is impossible to recall such hubris from a politician who not only failed to deliver on what was promised but had nothing to promise in the first place. Levy's partnership with Meretz saved her from oblivion; to prove how misplaced her arrogance is, one only has to look to the election results in her hometown of Beit Shean, where Gesher received 403 votes on March 2, less than half the the 821 votes it received in the April 2019 vote. Let's nolive.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6275373> </p><p>It is impossible to recall such hubris from a politician who not only failed to deliver on what was promised but had nothing to promise in the first place.&nbsp;</p> <p>Levy's partnership with Meretz saved her from oblivion; to prove how misplaced her arrogance is, one only has to look to the election results in her hometown of Beit Shean, where Gesher received 403 votes on March 2, less than half the the 821 votes it received in the April 2019 vote.</p> <p>Let's not forget the fact that Meretz and Labor almost definitely suffered the loss of votes over this partnership with Gesher, as Levy is seen as a representative of the right.</p> <p>It is not just the betrayal when her party was needed the most, it is also the complete contradiction between the things she said on the eve of the elections and her statement on Tuesday in which she announced she was no longer bound to the partnership with Meretz.</p> <p>It is not even close to the case of Blue &amp; White MKs Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser, who declared ahead of the March 2 elections that they would neither accept Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister nor agree to a narrow government backed by the Joint List - and who in the end only stuck by their refusal to accept Arab support.</p> <p>One can criticize their choice, one could even say that they chose racism over integrity, that they preferred to sit with a thrice-indicted man instead of in a government that has outside backing from the representatives of approximately 20% of Israelis.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6275374> </p><p>Levy made no such declaration; in fact, the opposite is true. Before the elections, she said on more than one occasion she had no problem sitting in a government supported by the Joint List. They are after all, she said with unexpected enlightenment, part of the Israeli population.</p> <p>That is why when she said that she would not support such a government, she was just flat out lying.</p> <p>The internet does not forget, and you can see her exact words during her interviews prior to the elections in videos published on social media.</p> <p>What makes Levy even more treacherous is not only the fact that she betrayed Peretz, who carried her on his back all through the elections, but that she betrayed those who voted Labor-Gesher-Meretz and had no fears over a government supported by the Arabs.</p> <p>Her act pushed the head of Meretz to demand she vacate her seat in the Knesset, a seat he rightly claims she won thanks to the voters of the left-wing bloc.</p> <p>"We are all witnessing leaders who pledged to act with integrity and accountability, engaged in shameful display of lobbying," wrote Levy last week. &nbsp;</p> <p>"These leaders are willing to pay any price in order to form a minority government."</p> <p>Even the prime minister's son, Yair Netanyahu, is no capable of writing such a blunt statement. One can only wonder at Levy's reason for doing so.</p> <p>Was it the talks between Yisrael Beytenu's Avigdor Liberman and the Blue &amp; White leadership that got her to jump ship? Or was it the fact that she had been negotiating with Likud behind the backs of her associates?&nbsp;</p> <p>That would explain after all why Likud upped its demands to be part of a unity government with Blue &amp; White.</p> <p>It is true Levy vehemently denied the accusations she was a prime contender to defect to the ranks of the Likud, she also lied though when she said she is all for a minority government supported by the Arab population.</p> message 56943390 An attack on Israel's Arabs is an attack on us all Opinion: While many disagree with members of the Joint List on many subjects, the attempt to denounce them along with one fifth of the country's citizens is unacceptable, unabashed racism that we must all denounce Tamir Pardo https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56943390,00.html Fri, 13 Mar 2020 22:55:16 +03:00 The statements made by various members of Knesset and ministers who say joining up with the Arab Joint List poses a risk to the people of Israel, are irresponsible, unacceptable, and are tainted with racism. The same goes for calling them "supporters of terrorism", "terrorists in suits", and a variety of other nicknames used to describe the Arab Knesset members in order to delegitimize them. I disagree with the members of the Joint List on almost every subject, all the more on the topic of the Palestinian-Israel conflict. But as a citizen of Israel, I am loyal to its laws and to the values of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, which grants the country's Arab citizens full rights. Those signing the declaration (chief among them Israel's first prime minister David Ben-Gurion) unanimously agreed that "The State of Israel…will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex." Perhaps that clause was meant to serve as a sort of countermeasure against the possibility that the country would be one day be led by those who see a contradiction between Israel's two most basic principles - a Jewish and a democratic country. As for the law, article 7A of the Basic Law: Knesset states that "support of armed struggle, by a hostile state or a terrorist organization, against the State of Israel" is grounds to prohibit a candidate or a party from participating in the elections for the Knesset. Since neither the Joint List nor its members were prohibited from participating in the elections, they should not be so inappropriately denounced, as such a move would be in clear opposition to the position of both the Central Elections Committee and the Supreme Court. All Israelis are eligible to vote in Israel, no matter whether they choose to pray in a synagogue, a mosque, a church or nowhere. The attempt to denounce the right to vote of 600,000 citizens is nothing less than unabashed incite><p>Since neither the Joint List nor its members were prohibited from participating in the elections, they should not be so inappropriately denounced, as such a move would be in clear opposition to the position of both the Central Elections Committee and the Supreme Court.</p> <p>All Israelis are eligible to vote in Israel, no matter whether they choose to pray in a synagogue, a mosque, a church or nowhere.</p> <p>The attempt to denounce the right to vote of 600,000 citizens is nothing less than unabashed incitement against a large sector of the population who not only lives here, but contributes and is an inseparable part of the country.</p> <p>How is an Arab doctor who chose to support the Joint List supposed to feel when he dons his surgical mask and scrubs to save patients' lives? Should he be denied the right to be part of a working legitimate political system?</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6166214> </p><p>Any attempt to erode the rights of Israel's Arab citizens to equality, a future and self-realization - either by excluding them from politics or by threatening to transfer their villages to a future Palestinian entity - is not just clear racism, it could also potentially pose a threat to Israel.</p> <p>"J'Accuse" wrote Emile Zola in a January 1898 open letter accusing the French government of anti-Semitism after Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus was falsely charged with treason for no reason other than he was a Jew.</p> <p>Today in the State of Israel there are clear attempts by a number of public leaders to charge one fifth of the country's citizens with the same claim of treason, to brand them as lepers in their own homeland and claim that any political collaboration with them "poses a risk to the citizens of Israel."&nbsp;</p> <p>How would we react if the leaders of another country spoke in the same manner about their Jewish population? There is no shortage of countries hostile to Israel that harbor a Jewish population with an affinity for the Jewis message 56943400 Iran in the shadow of the coronavirus Analysis: While the Islamic Republic is hardly the most stable of countries, the conduct of the Iranian government over COVID-19, coupled with thousands of people already having been infected, serves to destabilize the country further Raz Zimmt https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56943400,00.html Fri, 13 Mar 2020 22:55:5 +03:00 The coronavirus outbreak in Iran has delivered another massive blow to the people's trust in the government of President Hassan Rouhani. This new blow comes just weeks after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 soon after takeoff from Tehran. The event sent thousands of angry people to the streets in protest, furious at their government's conduct and subsequent attempts to cover up the incident. The spread of the coronavirus in Iran, which began in Qom's religious center and has already claimed hundreds of lives, served to further expose the regime's attempts to conceal the truth from the public, sparking resentment and widespread public criticism. Mahan Air, the airline company owned by the Revolutionary Guard, continued its flights to China despite both the virus' outbreak and the authorities' announcement that all flights between the two countries would cease starting February. The Iranian regime has also long avoided taking any preemptive measures that could have potentially slowed the infection rate in the country, such as quarantining the sick, closing schools and prohibiting large gatherings of people, especially in the city where the infection began. Even after authorities were forced to admit there was indeed an outbreak and began publishing data on the extent of the infection, official reports were met with skepticism from the public. The public's panic and confusion only grew when foreign news outlets, social media accounts, and even local politicians (including a parliament member from Qom) claimed that the number of infected and fatalities were actually much higher than the official government reports. One Iranian news site described the growing trust issues between the government and the public as "much worse than the spread of coronavirus," claiming that the situation was being exploited by foreign media in the service of Iran's enemies. An analysis piece published by the same website at thnic and confusion only grew when foreign news outlets, social media accounts, and even local politicians (including a parliament member from Qom) claimed that the number of infected and fatalities were actually much higher than the official government reports.</p> <p>One Iranian news site described the growing trust issues between the government and the public as "much worse than the spread of coronavirus," claiming that the situation was being exploited by foreign media in the service of Iran's enemies.</p> <p>An analysis piece published by the same website at the beginning of March stated that it was only natural for the Iranian people to rely on foreign media for news when their own government had hidden information about the Ukrainian plane crash for three straight days, and refused to provide the exact number of casualties in the November 2019 gas shortage riots.</p> <p>The erosion of public trust in the government was also apparent in the low voter turnout for Iran's parliamentary elections on February 21.&nbsp;</p> <p>The turnout of some 42% was the lowest recorded since the country's Islamic revolution of 1979, with the number being even lower inside Iran's biggest cities.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6176130> </p><p>The worsening trust of the Iranian public continues to pose a challenge to the country's regime, and although it does not face any immediate threat, it is mainly due to the fact that the Iranian protest movement is plagued by several key weaknesses.</p> <p>Even if the movement had any motivation to renew the protests today, it is safe to say that the spread of the coronavirus has all but snuffed out the desire of the people to take to the streets.</p> <p>Still, the public's continued loss of confidence in the Iranian government can serve to destabilize it further down the road, especially if Iran finds itself facing another economic decline or the departure of the Supreme Leader. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><br></p> <p><strong>Dr. Raz Zimmt message 56940470 Israel must follow Asia’s example in fighting coronavirus pandemic Opinion: The government must confront the pandemic with aggressive measures, benefiting from other nations’ successes rather than raising the white flag and hoping for divine intervention to stop the rapid spread of the disease Nadav Eyal https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56940470,00.html Fri, 13 Mar 2020 8:55:14 +03:00 The world is at a historically significant moment and the World Health Organization announced that the coronavirus is a global pandemic. This is unchartered territory and a crisis never before experienced, as our world exists with strong international connections, businesses that are dependent on each other and cultures that are affected by each other. Israel is also facing this dramatic moment in time. It is a very crowded country, among the most crowded in the West. The number of people infected by the coronavirus tripled in less than one week. This is a real threat. There has been a lot of fake news spread in recent weeks and that must be stopped. Guidelines for the medical community were issued in Italy on Wednesday as to who among patients suffering from the coronavirus will be aided by respirators, and who will no longer be given use to one despite still being in the fight for his or her life. Who should be kept out of hospitals and why? Because of the rush on hospitals by coronavirus sufferers, in this affluent part of the country, people with strokes were neglected and there was no manpower available to conduct life-saving procedures including CPR. Italy had 45 deaths from coronavirus at the beginning of March and as of Wednesday reported more than 800 dead. This is not just flu as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it. It never was just flu and unlike Netanyahu's assertion, coronavirus affects more than just the elderly population. Israeli officials initially insisted this country is different from Italy and does not have community spread. The problem is with people arriving from abroad and bringing in the virus, they said. So, resources were directed towards the arrival hall at the Ben Gurion International Airport and the home front, as it were, was left unprotected. Hospitals were stopped from conducting testing for the virus on anyone who had not recently traveled abroad. They were the only ones to be tested and even then, it was only wh insisted this country is different from Italy and does not have community spread. The problem is with people arriving from abroad and bringing in the virus, they said. So, resources were directed towards the arrival hall at the Ben Gurion International Airport and the home front, as it were, was left unprotected.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6166241> </p><p>Hospitals were stopped from conducting testing for the virus on anyone who had not recently traveled abroad. They were the only ones to be tested and even then, it was only when they were already running a fever.</p> <p>At this critical moment, barring divine intervention in the form of a change of weather that will weaken the virus or some other unexpected occurrence, it is up to the government to make decisions that may cost the lives of many and will determine the state of the economy for a long time to come.</p> <p>The government can say that coronavirus is here, a large percentage of the population will be sick and hospitals will be overrun by patients needing care but all that is inevitable and all we the decision-makers can do is try to slow the spread of the disease as much as possible and hope for the best. This is how past epidemics were dealt with.</p> <p>Or it can learn from the Asian response. Hit hard and fast. Bring much of civilian life to a halt, take extraordinary steps and track down and isolate anyone who was exposed to the virus.</p> <p>This is a much more painful approach at first, but it has shown great results in a relatively short period of time.</p> <p>There was no one among the leading epidemiologists who thought China would come out of the crisis as quickly as it appears to have done. Even if the Chinese are not being completely truthful about the situation, Taiwan with a population of 32 million had 54 infected cases and one death. Containment was also reported in Singapore and even South Korea.</p> <p>Adopting that approach would mean taking action, scrapping ridiculous press conferences that are being held primarily to compliment senior officials from the prime minister on down, and instead use the full force of government and industry to increase many fold the capacity for testing for coronavirus - drive-through testing is one option - locate and isolate every infected patient, close all public institutions, send staff to work from home and on and on.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6166242> </p><p>These measures are not a new invention or a mere suggestion. They are an Asian art of war, a martial art used by some countries and it has already proved its effectiveness.</p> <p>A government is needed in order to take control. So far we have been instructed on how to cough into our sleeves and use a tissue.&nbsp;</p> <p>A government would enlist hundred of unemployed doctors currently at home, halt medical school studies and conscript students to man testing stations</p> <p>And a real government would not tell people to stay at home if they were sick and only come to the hospital when their symptoms are grave. The desire to keep the hospitals free from dealing with mild cases is understandable, no one wants to waste precious beds on someone with a mild fever who hangs around the ward playing backgammon, but leaving the responsibility for public health in the hands of individuals is a dangerous thing and the state must step in and step up.</p> <p>The coronavirus lasts a long time and often has a second wave so people will show up at emergency rooms regardless of the government's intentions.</p> <p>According to the WHO after studying the cases in China, most infections are in close quarters so anyone infected that is staying indoors is likely to infect his or her family who in turn will go out and infect others.&nbsp;</p> <p>The government is considering the use of hotels that could host the many expected “mild cases,” &nbsp;but that can be seen as raising a white flag in the face of this pandemic.&nbsp;</p> <p>The sad fact is message 56931200 Hamas, Hezbollah and coronavirus Opinion: Threats to the north and south and general electoral exhaustion mean Israel cannot afford to waste time on political squabbles; Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz, we need unity now Yuval Karni https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56931200,00.html Wed, 11 Mar 2020 23:41:49 +03:00 There are moments in life when the feeling of revulsion is overtaken by real concern. After three long and exhausting election campaigns full of dangerous divisive rhetoric, that moment is now upon us. Revulsion aside, there is now a genuine concern for us citizens, our country, our political discourse, our political system, and the lack of public trust. Truth be told, that one has tried to stop us from deteriorating to the dangers that stem from the current political discourse that only proves how low we've come. Worst still is the sanctimonious contention of our politicians that they are on the side of truth. The world of Israeli politics has become over this past year one of extremes. Therefore, we cannot be surprised by what has failed to come out of the recent elections. There is no talk of a national unity coalition by either of the major parties, whose positions are very similar on major policy issues. A decision to form such a government would finally enable us to deal with the real issues facing the country. It is time for politicians to set aside campaign promises, principles and personal animosities for the greater good. Blue & White leader Benny Gantz would like to form a unity government if only Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be removed. The prime minister in turn tried and failed three times to win the necessary votes to form a government and advance his agenda, which includes legislation that would release him of his criminal trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Three rounds of elections in less than one year have failed to result in a conclusive winner. So, what made Gantz rush to try to form a narrow government? Why is Netanyahu refusing to push for national unity? Each man is waiting for the other to fail, but if one of them succeeds in establishing a narrow coalition, his government would be hated by half of the public and begin its tenure lacking public trust. Israel is dealing with a real emergency at this time, and th trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.</p> <p>Three rounds of elections in less than one year have failed to result in a conclusive winner.&nbsp;</p> <p>So, what made Gantz rush to try to form a narrow government? Why is Netanyahu refusing to push for national unity?</p> <p>Each man is waiting for the other to fail, but if one of them succeeds in establishing a narrow coalition, his government would be hated by half of the public and begin its tenure lacking public trust.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel is dealing with a real emergency at this time, and though politicians prefer to stay away from unity governments, unity is the solution most favored by the voters who dread the idea of a fourth election cycle.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6147548> </p><p>The coronavirus will affect not only the health of its citizens and of its medical establishments but could also devastate its economy.&nbsp;</p> <p>And lest us forget our ongoing security challenges on our northern and southern fronts.</p> <p>We can all dream of our ideal government, but we cannot now, as the window of opportunity is about to close, let the chance of a unity coalition be lost.</p> <p>We must all join forces, and hands, and put the county first. It is also time to heal the wounds so Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz, to you I say: Unity now</p> message 56926370 'We are past the time for coronavirus quarantine' Analysis: The next few weeks will present a growing number of infections and already struggling hospitals will need more intensive care units and more respirators; this is the time to tackle those needs, before it is too late Dr. Yoav Yehezkelli https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56926370,00.html Wed, 11 Mar 2020 9:46:12 +03:00 The novel coronavirus is an emerging infection caused by a new and never before seen pathogen. When dealing with a new illness, we collect and study data, assess risks, analyze possible scenarios and are realistic and flexible in our decision-making process. The data collected on the virus so far raises some conclusions that require us to rethink our plan of action against it. Here are the facts: This is a highly contagious, flu-like disease that moves from one person to the next through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes and through contact, but unlike the flu, the coronavirus has a much higher mortality rate. When the disease reaches the lungs, it can cause respiratory failure. This is more prevalent among people with chronic illnesses. Eighty percent of coronavirus patients will only display slight symptoms and could be treated at home, 15% will require hospitalization and 5% will need to be taken to an intensive care unit and be given respiratory support. There is currently no cure available for the novel coronavirus. There is no way to stop the spread of the virus in Israel or around the world. That horse has already bolted. The draconian and economically devastating measures taken by health officials may only delay infections for a while, but in the long run, the spread of the virus is inevitable. We will be seeing hundreds of thousands of confirmed new cases in the coming weeks. The 14-day quarantine period imposed on many Israelis has serious social, economic and emotional implications that should be weighed against their limited advantages. This is a bleak, but plausible, prediction that we must prepare for. The only way to keep coronavirus fatalities down in case of mass contagion is by increasing local hospitals' capacity to treat patients in ICUs with respirators. There is an urgent need for more ICU beds and respirators. ICU's must maintain separation of patients and must strictly adhere to protocols to pr/p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6158221> </p><p>The 14-day quarantine period imposed on many Israelis has serious social, economic and emotional implications that should be weighed against their limited advantages.</p> <p>This is a bleak, but plausible, prediction that we must prepare for.</p> <p>The only way to keep coronavirus fatalities down in case of mass contagion is by increasing local hospitals' capacity to treat patients in ICUs with respirators. There is an urgent need for more ICU beds and respirators.</p> <p>ICU's must maintain separation of patients and must strictly adhere to protocols to protect medical teams from infection.&nbsp;</p> <p>They are currently understaffed and undersupplied while the number of cases is still low.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6158222> </p><p>The medical system has been starved for years and medical teams are already overworked as they tend to the needs of the public.</p> <p>Hospitals must prepare for an influx of patients but must also better protect medical teams.&nbsp;</p> <p>Local clinics and HMOs must also improve their ability to protect their medical staff from infection because they will be tasked with treating the estimated 80% of patients exhibiting only mild symptoms.</p> <p>Patients should be encouraged to stay home as much as possible and treatment should only come to them when needed.&nbsp;</p> <p>Handling such an epidemic requires leadership, determination and the ability to change course when necessary.&nbsp;</p> <p>These changes must be made now.</p> message 56924600 Concern and responsibility in a coronavirus world Opinion: People who ignore the directives of health officials and refuse to stay quarantined are putting everyone else in their environment at risk of infection, with the elderly and the frail more likely to pay the ultimate price Amichai Atali https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56924600,00.html Tue, 10 Mar 2020 23:41:39 +03:00 Just as the coronavirus has exhibited its potential as a public health crisis, some Israelis are exhibiting irresponsible behavior in their response to it. Who in heaven's name are those who are continuing to fly to and from overseas destinations? Many people leaving the country are most likely tourists heading home, but with businesses stalled and tourism all but stopped, who are the people who risk potentially bringing more coronavirus into the country? For years, Israelis were made to think that they could not trust the establishment. Bureaucrats lie, officials never live up to their promises, etc. But now, in the face of a real crisis, we have seen a well-organized and efficient response that is overseen by Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, who is calmly navigating the country through the storm. Still, there are some fools among us who are putting us all in danger. It would be hard to find an Israeli who is not personally familiar with someone in quarantine. Although it is an inconvenience (to say the least) and a long time to be in isolation, especially after being abroad and itching to get back to routine, most people understand they must stick to the guidelines to protect themselves and others. I am worried about those who fail to maintain their quarantine as directed; people who think they are smarter than anyone else. Two such people are friends of friends and I know they have completely brushed off Health Ministry guidelines and are walking among us, maintaining their usual routine, going to work and visiting crowded venues. The only way to deal with the coronavirus spread is by mutual and community responsibility. Many of us will never know whether we have been infected, others will suffer only mild symptoms and so the spread of the virus will continue - ultimately affecting those in poorer health and at greater risk of death. The elderly are less likely to survive the illness, those who have serious medical conditions or whdelines and are walking among us, maintaining their usual routine, going to work and visiting crowded venues.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6137906> </p><p>The only way to deal with the coronavirus spread is by mutual and community responsibility. Many of us will never know whether we have been infected, others will suffer only mild symptoms and so the spread of the virus will continue - ultimately affecting those in poorer health and at greater risk of death.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6137907> </p><p>The elderly are less likely to survive the illness, those who have serious medical conditions or whose immune system is compromised, even those suffering from asthma could be in danger.</p> <p>Do these people who fail to take their responsibility seriously want to be the cause of someone's death?</p> <p>Would they be prepared to monetarily compensate families who have lost their main income provider?</p> <p>I call on them to care about other's lives, even if they do not care about their own.&nbsp;</p> <p><br></p> message 56923820 Netanyahu and Gantz should grow up Opinion: The public is tired of politicians' slogans, excuses and arguments, but most of all the public is tired of the political stalemate and the threat of a fourth election cycle since April 2019; someone needs to step up and lead Ben-Dror Yemini https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56923820,00.html Tue, 10 Mar 2020 20:45:2 +03:00 Honorable and not so honorable politicians, I would like to tell you something your close advisers are not telling you: We have grown tired of you. Regardless of who you are and whether you are from the right, the left or the center, you should know that we the public are feeling nothing but contempt for your silly games. Most of us in the public do not believe you are "protecting principles" or "keeping your promises to the voters." Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing and religious bloc, which has forced us into political limbo for more than a year, nor Blue & White leader Benny Gantz and his political partners have shown any willingness to form a unity government. Spare us your excuses. I am sure you think they prove you right, but save them for the people who follow you blindly and cheer you on your road to nowhere. You both have friends and advisers who neglect to tell you the simple truth, which is that we don't care. Israel perhaps more than any other country needs a dependable and stable government, one that has won the public's trust. We cannot afford another narrow government that will look out for its own survival and not the interests of the country. Hatred and personal boycotts will get us nowhere. We are done with them. It is time for you to grow up. Three former military chiefs are not leftist traitors, as politicians on the right have claimed about Gantz, Gabi Ashkenazi and Moshe Ya'alon, and Netanyahu cannot be compared with Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as people on the left have said. Both sides should climb off their high horses and find a way to join forces. President Reuven Rivlin could be called upon to help bring you together. He has tried before and could and in fact should make the effort again. Someone, somewhere has to assume the role of responsible adult. This is not the time to "stick to your guns," it is time to think of the good of the country. The first one of you to reach out tnyahu cannot be compared with Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as people on the left have said.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6149645> </p><p>Both sides should climb off their high horses and find a way to join forces.&nbsp;</p> <p>President Reuven Rivlin could be called upon to help bring you together. He has tried before and could and in fact should make the effort again.</p> <p>Someone, somewhere has to assume the role of responsible adult.</p> <p>This is not the time to "stick to your guns," it is time to think of the good of the country.</p> <p>The first one of you to reach out to his opponent to begin discussing unity will be rewarded by a grateful public.&nbsp;</p> <p>Honorable politicians, your short-term political trickery will come back to bite you. If you put the country first, you will be well served in the long run.</p> <p><br></p> message 56919770 Blue & White must put country over party Opinion: The public has chosen to believe the thrice-indicted Benjamin Netanyahu over Israel's own law enforcement agencies, and even though it means breaking their promise to never sit in a Netanyahu-led unity government, Gantz's party needs to hold national interests higher than its own political ones Ben-Dror Yemini https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56919770,00.html Tue, 10 Mar 2020 10:50:15 +03:00 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs to send flowers as soon as he can to the heads of Israel's law enforcement agencies, since that ugliest election to date didn't tackle issues such as the Jordan Valley's annexation, ultra-Orthodox enlistment, or the social gap. The latest election round was revolved around Netanyahu, and whether to believe the law enforcement agencies who seek to put Netanyahu on trial for the three grave indictments he is facing. The results were clear: with 58 seats for the Likud, many of the public chose to believe Netanyahu instead of former state prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who said Netanyahu should stand trial for his alleged corruption. Netanyahu also needs to send flowers to Blue & White leader Benny Gantz, who failed to show he had the ability to match Netanyahu's assorted accomplishments of the last decade, including the improvement in Israel's relations with Arab and African countries, and lowering the number of terrorist victims to its lowest yet. When I asked people about Gantz's vision for Israel, all I got were stutters; I doubt someone could have actually answered my question with a coherent answer. In the last three elections, there were enough floating voters to translate into seven or six Knesset seats, a fact that motivated both the left and right. Blue & White was supposed to convince these floating voters to join it - and subsequently failed. And when Gantz announced the superiority of the judicial system over the political system, he sided with Nitzan and Netanyahu portrayed as a zealous witch hunter. But this is not how you win elections, this is how you lose them. Netanyahu for his part ran the dirtiest, most despicable hate-filled campaign Israel has ever seen, a campaign that made the voters of the Likud seem like a pack of rabid animals. Let us remember the February 2018 interview by then-Israel Police commissioner Roni Alsheikh, whose hostility towards Netanyahu was only too clear, despite him being a yarmulke-wearortrayed as a zealous witch hunter.</p> <p>But this is not how you win elections, this is how you lose them.</p> <p>Netanyahu for his part ran the dirtiest, most despicable hate-filled campaign Israel has ever seen, a campaign that made the voters of the Likud seem like a pack of rabid animals.</p> <p>Let us remember the <a href="https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5098825,00.html" class="bluelink" style="">February 2018 interview</a> by then-Israel Police commissioner Roni Alsheikh, whose hostility towards Netanyahu was only too clear, despite him being a yarmulke-wearing former settler who was appointed to the position by the prime minister.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6147544> </p><p>The interview wasn't just a milestone - it was a turning point.&nbsp;</p> <p>It was followed by claims that the police chief was indeed hostile to Netanyahu - not because of the prime minister's corruption, but due to his own political aspirations.</p> <p>In the end, the public chose to believe Netanyahu, because if the chief of police is as corrupt as they claim, it is tough to believe him when he accuses Netanyahu of any misdeeds.</p> <p>No letters by hundreds of pilots or petitions from academics claiming Netanyahu is unfit to serve as PM will dissuade President Reuven Rivlin from giving the Likud leader the mandate to form the next government.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6147545> </p><p>Letters of this ilk could even have the opposite desired effect, such is the strength of democracy.</p> <p>Israeli society is reeling and in order to recover we need a unity government. I know that Blue &amp; White declared they would under no circumstances be part of a government under Netanyahu, but if such a chance arises, they must seize it with both hands, since ultimately politics is about choosing the lesser of two evils.</p> <p>While a unity government would be a broken promise on Blue &amp; White's part, more elections, or an ultra-Orthodox governmen message 56917840 The coronavirus coalition Opinion: In a political catch-22, Israel needs to make urgent decisions about the economy that on one hand cannot wait for the formation of a new government but on the other cannot be made by the current interim administration, and the solution is obvious Giora Eiland https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56917840,00.html Mon, 09 Mar 2020 23:43:36 +03:00 Israeli media over the past few weeks has centered around two main issues, each reported on separately: coronavirus and the March 2 election. It is time for everyone to understand that the former heavily influences the latter. The government is trying to send the reassuring message that it can control the spread of the virus and continue to allow the economy to grow. Unfortunately, both statements are wishful thinking. The national healthcare system should be commended for the efforts its employees are making, but an event of such scale should have long ago involved other national agencies. For example, instead of interviewing patients and slowly mapping all the places that they passed through, the Shin Bet security service - with its great technological capabilities - could have been asked for help. Agencies finding it hard to track whether suspected coronavirus carriers were staying in quarantine could have long ago used electronic tagging or another location tracker to keep an eye on them. As the Magen David Adom emergency service began to collapse under the strain, other rescue organizations, primarily the IDF Medical Corps, should have been called on to help. Far more dangerous and significant is the financial damage. There is a slowly unfolding economic downward spiral that began with the airlines and hotel industries and is destined to consume more and more companies and sectors along the way. Not all jobs can be be performed from home and not all Israeli companies work with local suppliers and customers. On the contrary, Israel has exceeded expectations with its international economic ties, an achievement that could very quickly become its Achilles heel. In any event, the country will soon enter a recession that will manifest as a drop in GDP, increased unemployment and a decline in state revenue – the result of which is an unavoidable economic crisis. The current government's hands are tied since the emergency measures needed to be taken immed be be performed from home and not all Israeli companies work with local suppliers and customers. On the contrary, Israel has exceeded expectations with its international economic ties, an achievement that could very quickly become its Achilles heel.</p> <p>In any event, the country will soon enter a recession that will manifest as a drop in GDP, increased unemployment and a decline in state revenue – the result of which is an unavoidable economic crisis.&nbsp;</p> <p>The current government's hands are tied since the emergency measures needed to be taken immediately are not just out of its legal jurisdiction but also require parliamentary approval.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6144689> </p><p>As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likes to say, if steps are not taken to stop the growth of the "fat man" (public sector), the "thin man" (private sector) will continue to shrink and find it harder to carry its corpulent counterpart.</p> <p>One of the possible measures that could be taken is a temporary cut to public sector spending, mainly for pensions.&nbsp;</p> <p>But such unpopular legislation requires political consensus, therefore - despite the political horsetrading over coalitions - the two biggest parties Likud and Blue &amp; White must form an ad hoc emergency government to battle the coronavirus.</p> <p>Whether they then form a special parliamentary committee or choose another route, they must made these decisions quickly, or we will all be sorry.&nbsp;</p> message 56917700 On politics and pretenses Opinion: Ganz and Liberman have passed the point of no return and must push for a coalition backed by the Arab MKs or fade away over the course of the fourth or fifth elections Nahum Barnea https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56917700,00.html Mon, 09 Mar 2020 23:27:53 +03:00 This week began badly for those vying for an end of the Netanyahu area, and ended on a more positive note as the disappointment with the election results was replaced by a sober view of reality. Recognizing the moment as the point of no return in terms of their own political futures, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman and Blue & White head Benny Gantz reached an understanding - if not an actual agreement - on their strategic objectives going forward. The two party leaders must stop reacting to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's agenda or find themselves fading away over the next election cycles. They must create a coalition supported one way or another by the Joint List alliance of Israel's Arab parties. There is no other viable option. The Joint List will live on regardless of who the next prime minister is, but neither Gantz nor Liberman may last without the support of the Joint List. The ultimate target for both Israel Beytenu and Blue & White is a unity government with Likud minus its current leader, but to reach that target they must carry out a complicated political maneuver that requires manipulation and political agility. They must replace the Knesset speaker, enlist 59 Knesset members to recommend Gantz to President Reuven Rivlin to be the next premier, pass a law blocking Netanyahu from the Prime Minister's Office because of his criminal indictment, have that law upheld by the Supreme Court, form a minority coalition that can last for a while and only then extend an invitation for Likud minus its leader to join. Will they succeed? I doubt it. With the national debt as large as it is and the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic expected to be severe, the IDF's demand for additional budget reaching into the billions, the promises made to voters during the last campaign and the demands that coalition partners are sure to make, Netanyahu is the only uniting factor the center-left parties still have. Arab voters came out in great numbers tand only then extend an invitation for Likud minus its leader to join.</p> <p>Will they succeed? I doubt it.</p> <p>With the national debt as large as it is and the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic expected to be severe, the IDF's demand for additional budget reaching into the billions, the promises made to voters during the last campaign and the demands that coalition partners are sure to make, Netanyahu is the only uniting factor the center-left parties still have.</p> <p>Arab voters came out in great numbers to support their political leadership despite attempts by Netanyahu and his allies to bully them into Isolationism and extremism.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6142309> </p><p>The Blue &amp; White party made a massive mistake in following the advice of campaigners who told them they would stand to gain votes from the right-wing if they shunned the Arabs.</p> <p>Now that the party has internalized the importance of Arab support, they are still unable to overcome the opposition of two among their number, namely former Netanyahu aides Gideon Hauser and Yoaz Hendel, who are persistent in their opposition to any political attachment to the Joint List.</p> <p>Overlooking and discounting Arab voters is not new in Israeli politics. In the past, Knesset members used the distasteful term "the Jewish vote" to diminish the importance of 21% of the Israeli electorate. Now a more politically correct term has been chosen: "the Zionist vote."</p> <p>But who makes up the Zionist parliamentary bloc? The ultra-Orthodox parties? Their religious leaders hate the notion of Zionism more than they hate Arabs, subscribing to the belief that only after the coming of the Messiah could the Jewish people establish a Jewish government.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6142310> </p><p>And the far-right? Their Zionism is far different from the acceptable democratic definition of the term. Even the post-Zionists scattered among the Labor-Meretz supporters cou message 56911260 Israel's panic over coronavirus causes immeasurable damage Opinion: Despite the drastic measures taken by the Health Ministry, COVID-19 still found its way to the country; the new virus, however, not only has a low death rate but also doesn't thrive in warm climates, making hysteria surrounding it ridiculous Ehud Qimron https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56911260,00.html Sun, 08 Mar 2020 23:36:11 +03:00 Israel is among countries taking extreme measures in response to the spread of COVID-19, aka coronavirus. But despite those measures, the virus is more prevalent in Israel than in many other countries. As of Sunday evening, 39 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed placing the country in 33rd place out of 195 in terms of infected per capita, suggesting travel anywhere outside the country is a safer choice than staying put. Of course, places like China's Hubei province or Italy should be avoided. Thailand, a country of 70 million people, with 48 reported cases of infection, is threes time as safe as Israel, but passengers returning from there are required to enter a two-week period of quarantine. In an effort to calm the public's panic, which is causing immeasurable damage to Israel's economic and national stability as well as harming its foreign relations, I am calling for some of the steps declared by the government to be rescinded since their efficiency is questionable. As Prof. Ran Balicer, a member of the Ministry of Health's task force on epidemics, has already noted, South Korea - which has thus far conducted the most widespread and reliable testing for the new virus - has a 0.5% death rate. This is seven times lower than the terrifying and most likely erroneous numbers put out by the World Health Organization. An examination of the spread of the virus clearly indicates it thrives in the northern hemisphere now experiencing cold weather. Australia reported its first case on February 4 and has only 65 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Italy on the other hand saw its first case on February 5 and has reported 4,600 cases thus far. The virus multiplies after infection and migrates to the next person. If one carrier of the virus infects on average one other person, the virus could spread exponentially. If the virus infects less than one person on average it will reduce exponentially. Cold temperature in the northern hemisphere enables exponential growth is first case on February 4 and has only 65 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Italy on the other hand saw its first case on February 5 and has reported 4,600 cases thus far.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6176126> </p><p>The virus multiplies after infection and migrates to the next person. If one carrier of the virus infects on average one other person, the virus could spread exponentially. If the virus infects less than one person on average it will reduce exponentially.&nbsp;</p> <p>Cold temperature in the northern hemisphere enables exponential growth in cases while the southern hemisphere sees a matching drop in cases. This does not mean there are no cases of infection in Brazil or Australia, but they are much less prevalent.</p> <p>A careful estimation of Israel's relatively low infection rate could be attributed to the mild weather. Most Israelis were not infected locally by the coronavirus. They arrived from areas where the rate of infection was substantial and weather conditions optimal for the virus to thrive.</p> <p>The fact that a group of South Koreans traveled around the country for two weeks but infected very few Israelis could be seen as corroboration.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even the shop owner who returned from Italy having been exposed to the virus only infected his wife and a number of other people, far fewer than could have been infected had the weather conditions been different. In order to cause illness, the virus must be present in high numbers, reach specific tissue, overcome a healthy immune system and multiply in his host's body. In many of the cases, these conditions would not be met and no infection could take place.</p> <p>There is a consistent reduction in the number of new cases of the coronavirus in China and more people who were infected are making a full recovery. Contrary to media reports claiming 100,000 people have been infected by the virus worldwide, there are only 40,000 such cases.&nbsp;</p> <p>Of that number, 57,000 people have made full recoveries and 3,500 have died. These statistics should be encouraging.&nbsp;</p> <p>Measures taken by the Israeli government are excessive in my view, as is the worldwide panic that is supported by hurried decision making processes that are causing undoubtable economic harm.&nbsp;</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6176127> </p><p>These government measures would have been supported had there been less doubt as to their effectiveness in saving lives, but with the knowledge available it would be best to revaluate some of the decisions being made.</p> <p>A leader who can take responsibility is needed. One who can say that there is no cause for panic. I hope such a person can be found and that he or she could be an example to other world leaders.</p> <p>Most of the Health Ministry's guidelines should be scrapped and only those that do not cause damage to the economy or to foreign relations should be maintained: people should refrain from needless physical contact and the more susceptible to disease and the elderly should distance themselves from anyone ill.</p> <p>But the public should be encouraged to continue traveling, maintain their routine and allow the virus to disappear most probably with the summer. It is less deadly than its predecessors, (the SARS and MERS viruses) and after so many reported cases there is no shortage of relevant information available to health authorities.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Ehud Qimron is a professor of clinical microbiology at the Tel Aviv University School of Medicine</strong></p> message 56908580 The fight for equality for women continues Opinion: Women's advocacy must continue to ensure equal pay, discrimination free work environments and protection of advances already made from attempt to erode them Esther Hayut https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56908580,00.html Sun, 08 Mar 2020 13:38:3 +03:00 One week ago, Israeli men and women exercised their civic duty for the third time in a year and cast their votes in the parliamentary elections. Women's right to vote is now taken for granted but when the Jews began to resettle Palestine and early steps to created national institutions for the emerging state, were taken, efforts at equal rights for women to vote and be elected were undermined by some religious leaders. This prompted the women of the old "Yishuv" to fight for their basic rights and in 1919, one of the first woman's party anywhere in the world was established. This effort brought about the cooperation of women from all walks of life and communities: socialists and capitalists, so much so that one of the women was asked how such unions can be made? To which she replied: "As long as the doors to The Assembly of Representatives, (which preceded the Knesset) will remain open to you but closed to me I will join the underprivileged". Leading up to the election of the first Assembly in 1920, an agreement was reached allowing women to participate in the vote with the understanding that once assembly members were elected, the question of equal voting rights would be revisited. In order to facilitate the participation of the ultra-Orthodox community, separate polling stations some for the general public and some branded "kosher" allowing only men to enter, were opened. Votes from the Kosher ballots were counted twice: once for the man who cast his vote and once for his wife who stayed away. The fight did not end even after 14 women were elected to the Assembly and the debate continued until 1926 when the Second Assembly of Representatives, with its 25 women members, voted for equal rights for women in all aspects of civil, political and economic life in the Jewish community. This vote positioned the "Yishuv" as groundbreaking in terms of the women's vote when in France, for example, women were given voting rights only in 1944 and in Switzerland, the rigy.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6120615> </p><p>The fight did not end even after 14 women were elected to the Assembly and the debate continued until 1926 when the Second Assembly of Representatives, with its 25 women members, voted for equal rights for women in all aspects of civil, political and economic life in the Jewish community.</p> <p>This vote positioned the "Yishuv" as groundbreaking in terms of the women's vote when in France, for example, women were given voting rights only in 1944 and in Switzerland, the right was not extended until 1971.</p> <p>Israel, which committed to equality at its foundation, legislated laws expressing as much, soon after the declaration of independence, with the Equal rights for Women act legislated in 1951.</p> <p>But the struggle for equality that began in the early years of the 20th century continues today. Much has been accomplished over the years and key roles in many professions previously considered exclusively male, are slowly being filled by women.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6120616> </p><p>The Israeli Judicial system had contributed substantially to that trajectory with groundbreaking rulings.&nbsp;</p> <p>In 1988 the Supreme Court ruled that it is unlawful to deny women positions on local rabbinical councils.</p> <p>And in 2012 the court ruled equal work must be awarded equal pay and anything to the contrary would be discriminatory on the part of the employer.</p> <p>But despite legislation, Supreme Court rulings and societal changes that have all improved the position of women, there is still much to be done.</p> <p>Too many women are still subject to subjugation, physical, mental, economic and social abuse and discrimination across the board.&nbsp;</p> <p>Too many women are discriminated against and face adverse stereotyping in the workplace requiring women advocacy to continues by all available tools, and no less important is our need to remain alert to ensure no advances that were made wo message 56907890 The connection between Iran's nuclear bid and regional aggression Analysis: IAEA report indicates stockpiling of low enriched uranium increases, demanding Israel and the U.S. prepare a coordinated response to an imminent threat Ron Ben Yishai https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56907890,00.html Sun, 08 Mar 2020 11:7:6 +03:00 Iran has stockpiled low-grade enriched uranium that could be used to produce a nuclear weapon, according to a confidential International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report submitted to its 171 member states last week. According to the report, since U.S. President Donald Trump announced he is withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear (JCPOA) agreement in May 2018, Iran had accumulated more than 1,000 kilograms of low-grade enriched uranium. The IAEA considers Iran's moves to increase its enriched uranium production to be part of a pressure campaign to entice the U.S. back to the JCPOA, but the Islamic Republic would need months and perhaps even years before it would have a prototype that could be used to make a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on any of its locally made missiles, including projectiles able to travel up to 2,000 kilometers. Iran still insists it has no intention of producing a nuclear bomb. Israeli intelligence officials say that the Islamic Republic's intentions are to pressure Trump to rejoin the nuclear pact on one hand, while continuing to inch towards nuclear capability. IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said his inspectors were barred from entering three important sites in which, according to Western intelligence agencies, Tehran was attempting to produce nuclear warheads. Iran claims it is not obliged to allow inspection of those sites under the 2015 JCPOA. This could be seen as an affirmation that the Iranians are proceeding with their plans to obtain nuclear capabilities and demands of Israel and the United States to begin coordinating their response should Iran succeed in reaching a breakout period, that could be achieved this year, according to the IAEA report. The IDF must prepare for conflict with Iran itself, as well as its proxies to the north who are continuing their entrenchment efforts along the Syrian-Israeli border on the Golan Heights. Using facilities belonging to Assad's forces, Hezbollah and Iran's Revolutionary Gwith their plans to obtain nuclear capabilities and demands of Israel and the United States to begin coordinating their response should Iran succeed in reaching a breakout period, that could be achieved this year, according to the IAEA report.</p> <p>The IDF must prepare for conflict with Iran itself, as well as its proxies to the north who are continuing their entrenchment efforts along the Syrian-Israeli border on the Golan Heights.</p> <p>Using facilities belonging to Assad's forces, Hezbollah and Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps personnel; local militias are preparing intelligence-gathering positions, as well as sniper positions that will enable attacks on Israeli troops and civilians. One such attack was foiled last week when the IDF struck Iranian-backed militia forces in the Quneitra province in southern Syria three times.</p> <p>The Iranian efforts to transport advanced missiles and technology by air to Syria and Lebanon continues as well, with Syrian military airbases used as drop off points.</p> <p>Iran is also working to produce chemical weapons to replenish Syria's stockpile and arm Hezbollah in Lebanon. An attack attributed to Israel last week near the city of Homs was reported to have targeted a chemical warfare facility and considered by foreign sources to be a warning to the Assad regime that Israel is aware of these efforts.</p> <p>Israeli officials now believe the Revolutionary Guard Corps' abilities were not affected by the assassination of its top commander, Qasem Soleimani, by the U.S. last January, despite hopes that his death would hinder Iran's expansionist efforts in the region.</p> message 56899190 Stronger Arab sector is good for all Israelis Opinion: The latest election results prove that Israel's largest minority has had enough of sitting on sidelines; now is the time for their voices to be heard, for the sake of a better, more inclusive country Chen Artzi Sror https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-56899190,00.html Fri, 06 Mar 2020 10:36:9 +03:00 The Joint List's strength grows more and more after each round of elections, a fact that some may find intimidating and threatening to the status quo in Israel. But taking a moment to really ponder the significance of increased voting expansion in the Arab sector, it is clear that this is actually very good news for all of us. For years Arab citizens of Israel simply did not participate in the elections - out of sheer desperation - and alienation from the country, its institutions and its society only grew. So as more and more Arab citizens choose to cast their vote in the elections, they are essentially signaling that they are ready to become part of the democratic game, shedding their mantle of a separate, uninterested distant faction within Israel. As more Arab votes are cast, Israel will gain from hearing more varied voices within the Arab society. The growth in voter numbers means a growing sense of responsibility, both of the Jewish majority towards the minority, and of the Arab minority towards the majority of which it is a part. That means that even a de facto right-wing government must rethink its established path, and come up with ways to form new partnerships with the Arab sector. The choice of Israel's Arabs to run in an ethnicity-based bloc rather than one grounded in ideology is the direct result of the incitement against the sector, which was used as a tool by two politicians in order to boost their careers: Yisrael Beytanu's Avigdor Liberman, and Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu. Liberman insisted the electoral threshold be raised in order to wipe out the Arab parties, inadvertently causing them to unite under one banner. Liberman has in fact pushed MK Hiba Yazbek of Blaad, the radical party that supports a binational state, into the arms of Ayman Odeh, the leader of the far-left Hadash, by trying to paint all Israeli Arabs as supporters of terrorism. Netanyahu for his part claimed the Arab population is "flocking to the ballots" on the day of the 20nd Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu.</p> <p>Liberman insisted the electoral threshold be raised in order to wipe out the Arab parties, inadvertently causing them to unite under one banner.</p> <p>Liberman has in fact pushed MK Hiba Yazbek of Blaad, the radical party that supports a binational state, into the arms of Ayman Odeh, the leader of the far-left Hadash, by trying to paint all Israeli Arabs as supporters of terrorism.</p> <p>Netanyahu for his part claimed the Arab population is "flocking to the ballots" on the day of the 2015 elections, establishing the "Bibi or Tibi" mentality - a reference to the prime minister and Arab MK Ahmad Tibi.</p> <p>The Arab population simply followed Netanyahu's own argument ot its conclusion, assuming that if the prime minister himself thinks they can change the political map, they most probably can - and they will.</p> <p>Think of the possibilities if Israel had an Arab party that not only discouraged terrorism, but also declared its recognition of the Jewish state.</p> <p>How many opportunities lay in an Arab health minister (Tibi is even a Hebrew University-trained doctor) - for there is no difference between an Arab intern in Jerusalem and a Jewish intern in Tel Aviv.</p> <p>The same can be said about an Arab welfare minister - for there is no difference in the challenges facing a Jewish mother of eight from Bnei Brak and an Arab mother of eight from Rahat.</p> <P>&nbsp; <IMG id=captionImageElement6131173> </p><p>Israeli Arabs have changed their view: they no longer refer to themselves as a sector separate from Israeli society, and this is a point of view that should be encouraged.&nbsp;</p> <p>There his also an important lesson to be had from the small religious-Zionist party Yamina, whose internal fighting and lack of appeal for most of Israeli society resulted in only six seats in the next Knesset.</p> <p>When Yamina was led by Naftali Bennett, he acted to both unite the religious sector and present the party as a compelling al message