This Week Today: Current Events from Israel

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

This Week Today

Current Events from Israel

Hope everyone had a lovely Passover holiday! It was certainly different for many people this year, but sometimes something different is good for us. I certainly hope that most of us are able to already see this good, because to be home with the kids for that long for no reason just makes it even more difficult to accept! 

Corona Israel Update

Things feel a little better in Israel, as I believe they do in the US as well. Unfortunately people do continue to die, but the curve is flattening (whatever that means). Clearly, there are still alot of questions about this whole thing. As of tonight, the Israeli government has decided, on the recommendation of Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, to reopen the vast majority of businesses as of next week. Still not clear what will be with the schools and events, but if the numbers remain steady, maybe those will be allowed to open gradually as well. Soldiers will be released to their homes for a break from duty after being confined to bases for the past 40 days (very biblical). Additionally, the government is examining ways to allow minyanim (prayer quorums). They already allow protests of thousands of people, so its only fair. 

Election Update

Despite Passover and the Corona crisis, political drama abounds! As Benny Gantz's, of the now much smaller Blue and White party, mandate to form a coalition government was winding down, negotiations were continued with Prime Minister Netanyahu on forming a "unity government". As a result, President Rivlin extended Gantz's allotted time by 2 days. When that failed to produce results by the deadline on Wednesday night, Rivlin gave the mandate over to the entire Knesset. Now any Knesset member has 21 days to form a government. In the meantime, negotiations continue between Gantz and Netanyahu. At the same time and as result of the current deadlock, Gantz has threatened, as elected Speaker of the Knesset, to bring forward legislation that would prohibit Netanyahu from being allowed to form a government, since he is presently under indictment. 

Here are the possible scenarios: 

1) Gantz and Netanyahu reach a deal in the next 21 days and form a government, either with all or some of the Netanyahu's right-wing allies. 

2) Netanyahu forms a government with a few rogue Knesset members (he only needs 2-3 more to add to his right-wing bloc of 58). He was unable to do this after the last 3 elections, but Corona.....

3) Fourth election on August 4th

Israel Strikes Hezbollah Target

Despite most folks being out of work, the terror groups aren't following those rules either. This week, it appears from various reports, that Israel targeted a car full of Hezbollah terrorists on the border between Syria and Lebanon. It would seem that the terrorists were not killed in the strike and managed to escape, but the message that Israel will not tolerate Hezbollah forces on the border with the Golan Heights continues to be sent loud and clear to Hezbollah and their Iranian sponsors/commanders.

Possible Prisoner Deal Progress

There are many reports, primarily from the Arab press, about progress in negotiations between Israel and Hamas over the bodies of 2 Israeli soldiers and 2 live Israeli citizens being held by Hamas in Gaza. Hamas is seeking the release of hundreds of terrorists from Israeli jails and also for assistance in fighting the Coronavirus. Both the fighting of the Coronavirus and the upcoming Ramadan Muslim month-long holiday give Hamas added incentive to reach a deal at this time. 

The Kinneret!

The Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) continues to fill up and is now just 16 cm from being totally full. The lake is presently gaining an average increase of height of 1 cm per day, so at this rate, its predicted that the barriers that lead into the Jordan River will be opened in early May to prevent Tiberias from flooding.

Live from Jerusalem....

For the first time, Israeli Supreme Court proceedings were broadcast live on Israeli television this week. The subject matter was the legality of the Shin Bet (Israeli FBI) electronically tracking individuals to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Let's hope this becomes a regular occurrence - the live proceedings, not the tracking. I'm not selfish, I'm happy to share the misery that comes with experiencing the Israeli Supreme Court with the rest of Israel!  Just like having kids home for weeks on end, no one should miss out on such worldly pleasures!