Israel is on track to reopen much of its economy by February 23, the government’s top coronavirus official said Friday. Daily cases continued to decline, with 4,922 new infections diagnosed on Thursday—the lowest weekday number since late December. The positive test rate on Thursday was 6.7 percent, the lowest it has been since January 10. The number of serious cases stood at 985. This week saw travel restrictions lifted throughout the country, and about 20 percent of Israel’s students went back to school in areas with low to medium coronavirus infection levels. However, infections are not declining consistently across the country. In several Haredi and Arab neighborhoods, infection rates remain high.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to postpone his corruption hearings until after Israel’s March elections. Netanyahu and his allies are publicly pressuring judges in the trial to postpone the presentation of witnesses and evidence until after the elections on March 23. “Everybody knows the cases against me are rigged," Netanyahu claimed on Monday. "This is why I don’t think the hearing of witnesses in my trial should begin before the elections, because even if it is not the intention, it would look like a flagrant interference in the elections." It is widely believed that the pre-trial presentations against Netanyahu would benefit his opponents. The judges noted how the trial has already been postponed several times due to COVID-19, and are expected to rule on the dates of the hearings in the coming days.
Iranian Nuclear Scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated near Tehran in November by a one-ton gun that was smuggled—piece by piece—into Iran by the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, according to a report by The Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday. Citing sources within Mossad, the report claims that more than 20 agents, including Israeli and Iranian nationals, helped carry out the ambush, which followed eight months of surveillance. Israel declined to comment on the matter back in November, and on Wednesday night, an Israeli government spokesman responded to the latest report by saying, “We never comment on such matters. There has been no change in our position.” Fakhrizadeh, 59, was long suspected by the West of masterminding a secret nuclear bomb program.
Crime in Israel's Arab Communities: Urgent Concern and Complex Realities: Join us on Wednesday, February 17 at 12pm ET for an in-depth discussion with Makbulla Nassar, Mandel Fellow, activist, and radio broadcaster, and Aya Mana’a, director of the community center in Majd al-Krum, for a discussion of these issues in Israel’s Arab society and the Karmiel-Misgav region. Click here to register for the event.
Our JCRC is curating a diverse schedule of webinars, hosted by our local and national partners, on Israel and other issues related to our work. Click here to view this calendar.