Weekly roundup of world briefs


March 25, 2022

Russia bans access to two Israeli Russian-speaking websites for its citizens

(JNS) — Russia blocked off access for its citizens to 30 websites worldwide, including two Russian-language Israeli websites, Maariv reported on Wednesday.

The two Israeli websites are Channel 9, a Russian-speaking Israeli television station, and Vesti, a Russian-language news website that belongs to the Yediot Achronot group.

The decision was taken on the day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 but only implemented on Wednesday, according to the report.

Russia passed a law that bans Russian media from distributing information about the Russian military that has not been authorized by government authorities.

Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel spoke with the CEOs of Channel 9 and the Vesti website, and updated them on Russia’s decision.

Hendel reportedly described the move as “illogical” and “aggressive.”

Yuri Kanovitch, CEO of Channel 9, told Maariv that his channel serves an Israeli audience, adding: “We will continue to make our best professional answer to broadcast to our viewers the most fresh, updated, confirmed and objective information, as we have always done, from the first day of this channel to this very day.”

Undercover Border Police officer injured in drive-by shooting during arrest

(JNS) — An Israel Border Police undercover police officer sustained light injuries on Wednesday after being shot during a clash in Jenin, which broke out in the midst of an anti-terror arrest operation.

According to a report by Kan News, the officer was evacuated for medical treatment after taking part in the arrest of a suspect named Muamin Nasrati, 28, a former Palestinian security prisoner who previously served three years in an Israeli prison.

During the arrest, tens of rioters launched a disturbance and opened fire at Israeli security forces, as well as hurling explosives at them.

“An armed terrorist arrived in a vehicle and fired at the forces. The officers returned fire, and according to local reports, injured [the gunman],” the report stated.

Meanwhile, tens of Palestinians clashed with the Israel Defense Forces at Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus, hurling firebombs and rocks at Israeli security forces, according to Kan.

The disturbance began after IDF soldiers accompanied a group of Jewish worshippers to the site in the northern West Bank. Security forces responded with riot dispersal means.

In recent days, the Palestinian Authority had asked Israel to delay the entrance of the Jewish worshippers to prevent clashes, noted the report, after a Palestinian gunman was killed in Nablus when he opened fire at Border Police undercover officers.

El Al planes take off with equipment for Israeli field hospital in Ukraine

(JNS) — Israeli cargo planes took off for Poland on Thursday carrying 17 tons of equipment for the construction of the country’s “Kochav Meir” (Shining Star) field hospital in western Ukraine.

Earlier this week, a medical delegation left for the area to assess the situation and start preparing the site. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from across the Israeli health system will participate in the endeavor.

The field hospital is being co-funded by the State of Israel, the Schusterman Foundation and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. It is being overseen by experts from Sheba Medical Center.

Approximately 21 million shekels ($6.5 million) is being invested in establishing the facility, which is expected to treat around 100 patients per day. The hospital is to be named after the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who was born in Ukraine.

The hospital will provide care to Ukrainian refugees, and will include a delivery room, It will also run a laboratory and X-ray machines. The staff on the ground will be working with Sheba Beyond remote medical center to be able to access the expertise of Israeli doctors overseas.

“This is the least we can do to help the Ukrainian people in the face of a brutal Russian invasion,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said earlier this month during a visit to Sheba to discuss the hospital.

Lockdowns see number of Israelis diagnosed with psychiatric disorders jump by 60 percent

By Maytal Yasur Beit-Or

(Israel Hayom via JNS) The national lockdowns instituted in Israel in 2020 negatively impacted people’s health, according to a large-scale study published this week by Clalit Health Services.

The research, which included 771,636 medical files of residents of central Israel and Jerusalem, showed that the number of obese patients increased by 8 percent during the lockdown periods, compared to 2019; smoking increased by 7 percent and high blood pressure by 6 percent. In addition, the number of patients with cardiovascular disease went up by 14 percent, and patients suffering from psychiatric disorders increased by a whopping 60 percent.

The study aimed to compare the difference in various chronic diseases in 2019 and 2020, the year Israel had three nationwide lockdowns. As a result of the lockdowns, Israelis spent less time outdoors, and visits to hospitals decreased due to fear of exposure.

The study, led by epidemiologist Galit Shefer, will be presented at the Israel National Institute for Health Policy Research’s annual conference, to be held at the end of March.

“The coronavirus pandemic had indirect impacts that led to a worsening of [individuals’] health condition—clinical and mental—especially among patients who before COVID suffered from hypertension and respiratory diseases,” said Shefer.

She highlighted the importance of focusing health and mental-care efforts during a pandemic on individuals with such conditions.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Iranian hackers leak Mossad chief’s personal information

By Lilach Shoval 

(Israel Hayom via JNS) — Iranian hackers on Wednesday published a video on an anonymous Telegram channel featuring personal photos and documents allegedly obtained from a phone used by the wife of Mossad Director David Barnea.

The video was posted on the “Open Hands” channel, which according to Israeli media was created on Tuesday. Its owners claimed to have obtained the information in a “lengthy intelligence operation” against Barnea, which began in 2014. Barnea was named head of the Israeli intelligence agency in June 2021.

“We’ve got a small gift for the Mossad; ‘With LOVE for David’. Happy Purim,” a post on the channel read, referring to the Jewish holiday celebrated this week.

The video has captions in Hebrew, Arabic and English, and includes photos apparently taken on a family vacation in Copenhagen in 2014, a photocopy of his I.D. card, tax documents, plane tickets and a satellite picture of what the hackers claim to be his home in central Israel.

The channel also published a quote from the Koran and a promise that more personal information on the Mossad chief would be released soon.

So far, the channel is followed by fewer than 100 people.

The Mossad said it was investigating the issue, adding that “this is old information.”

This report first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Israel has lowest work-absence rate among 28 countries

By Abigail Klein Leichman  

(Israel21C via JNS) Over the past few years, the world has been thrown into a state of uncertainty as it battles the coronavirus pandemic. But which countries had the highest absence rate from work due to sickness during this time?

New research by the U.K.-based Small Business Prices reveals that Israeli workers took fewer sick days than did workers in any of the other 27 countries studied.

Israeli citizens took an average of 3.9 days off per year due to illness. Germany, the country with the highest work-absence rate according to the research, took 18.3 sick days per year.

The United Kingdom is second only to Israel, with 4.4 sick days per worker annually.

The report’s authors opine that Israel’s achievement may be attributable to the strong Israeli work ethic, but add that there could be a less positive reason.

“The average salary in Israel is also typically lower than that of Europe and North America and the cost of living is higher than many other countries. Although the government covers sick leave, employees do not get 100% of their wage. All these factors could affect work absence as Israelis may not be able to afford missing work.”

They conclude: “There are many factors that affect absence rates from work due to sickness, however there has been an overall decrease in sickness leave since the pandemic started in 2020, where working from home became the norm. As the world continues to fluctuate between working environments, we expect these statistics to continue to change.”

You can view the full report here.

This article was first published by Israel21c.

Denmark announces anti-Semitism action plan that boosts Holocaust education

(JNS) — Denmark announced earlier this month that it is launching an action plan to better tackle anti-Semitism in the country.

The country’s new plan includes 15 initiatives, five of which aim at increasing knowledge about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism among children and the youth.

The initiatives include making Holocaust education obligatory in primary and lower secondary schools, and general upper secondary education; continuing and developing education about the Holocaust and other genocides; expanding dialogue among different religions; providing youths with more information about Jewish life and culture in Denmark; and preparing teachers on how to avoid students feeling excluded in schools.

“The action plan obligates the educational institutions to ensure that pupils obtain knowledge and skills, which remove prejudices and myths and call for tolerance and mutual respect between people,” described the plan on the European Union’s website. “This includes working systematically with critical thinking, in relation to for example propaganda and fake news, and challenging extremist and xenophobic attitudes and values.”

“The action plan also encompasses other initiatives to prevent anti-Semitism, including more research on anti-Semitism, prevention in specific environments, protection of Jews and Jewish institutions, improved instruction regarding anti-Semitic incidents and a focus on the fight against anti-Semitism in foreign policy.”

In 2019, 80 gravestones were desecrated at a Jewish cemetery in the western Danish town of Randers; in 2021, a Jewish cemetery in the northern Denmark town of Aalborg was vandalized over Passover.

Yeshiva University cancels student program featuring anti-Israel speaker

(JNS) — Administrators at Yeshiva University canceled a student-planned program that would have featured an anti-Israel speaker who supported terrorists.

The program, which was scheduled for March 1 at the Benjamin Cardozo Law School in Manhattan, a division of the YU system, was to have included Rabab Abdulhadi, director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Program at San Francisco State University, who has expressed her support for Palestinian terrorists, including Leila Khaled, a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

According to the anti-Semitism watchdog group Canary Mission, Abdulhadi “has cultivated times with Hamas-dominated universities, glorified terrorists and promoted hatred of Zionists.” She has also “expressed support for anti-Israel agitators and spread hatred of Israel during the coronavirus pandemic” and is a “member of a group that aims for academic boycotting of Israel.”

In a letter, Rabbi Dr. Avi Berman, the school’s president, wrote: “As the flagship Jewish university, Yeshiva University proudly supports Israel and its right to exist as central to our core values. In that spirit, we made a recent decision to cancel a student-scheduled guest speaker at Cardozo Law School.”

“While I know that our students were well-intentioned, all people of good conscience must stand against hate. Spirited debate about government policy and sanctions cannot descend into advocacy of violence,” he wrote. “The current anti-Semitic vitriol on college campuses today that so often uses anti-Israel rhetoric will find no home or harbor at this university.”

The students who were planning the event—Sydney Artson and Heidi Sandomir—issued a press release on Wednesday demanding that the program be reinstated, claiming that Abdulhadi has been “falsely accused of anti-Semitism, a known tactic to silence individuals criticizing the Israeli government.”

Kharkiv yeshivah takes direct hit from Russian rocket fire, no one injured

By Faygie Holt

(JNS) — A boys’ yeshivah in Kharkiv, Ukraine, that also serves as a synagogue was damaged last Tuesday after it was hit directly by rocket fire—the third Jewish communal building to be damaged in the city. Chabad-Lubavitch of Kharkiv’s kindergarten, the Ohr Avner Jewish day school and the main synagogue previously suffered damage from nearby bombings.

The yeshivah is housed in a historic synagogue that had been in use during Communist times. From 1919 to 1936, the congregation was led by Rabbi Aharon Turmarkin, who had been dispatched to the city by the fifth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom DovBer Schneersohn.

After being confiscated by Soviet authorities in the 1930s, the building served as the Kharkiv headquarters of the traffic police, known as the GAI.

The synagogue structure was returned to the Jewish community in the late 1990s, and in the post-Communist era has housed the local yeshivah and other communal institutions.

“Despite the attacks on our institutions … we will, in the first opportunity, renovate and restore and expand all our buildings and programs more than ever before,” wrote Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz, chief rabbi and the Chabad emissary to Kharkiv since 1990.

The second-largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv has been the site of frequent rocket fire and bombardments in the last few weeks. Dozens of civilians have been killed, and hundreds of others have been hurt.

Despite the hardship there, Chabad has been working to help as many people in the city as possible.

“We are continuing to evacuate people daily, in addition to giving shelter and food to those who have moved into the synagogue,” he wrote. “We are also sending daily hot meals and medicine to the elderly and needy trapped in their homes.”

Reprinted with permission from Chabad.org/News.

Physicians for Holocaust survivors provide medical care to Ukrainian refugees

(JNS) — LeMa’anam, an association of doctors who treat Holocaust survivors voluntarily, has sent a large delegation of medical and humanitarian aid to refugees in Moldova.

The delegation includes 35 doctors and primary-care physicians for families and children, in addition to other specialties including psychiatry, ENT, gynecology, orthopedics, along with nursing staff psychologists and social workers.

The delegation is working with refugees arriving in Moldova—mostly children and the elderly who were forced to leave their homes at short notice. In addition, the team will also provide initial treatment of the wounded.

CEO Elinoar Levitan said “we immediately realized that as an organization of doctors, saving lives and humanitarianism is at our very core. We had to mobilize for those who are in grave danger. It is therefore a great privilege for us to help and support refugees in their difficult times.”

In the last few days, the delegation treated a 30-year-old woman with a severe leg injury. After first aid on the ground, she was sent to Israel for additional treatment. Another case includes a traumatized 14-year-old girl who stopped communicating; after receiving support from the delegation’s social worker, she began to talk again.

Founder and chair of LeMa’anam Dr. Tamara Kolitz, who is leading the delegation, said: “As an organization set up for Holocaust survivors, it was only natural for us to get out there to help the refugees at this time.”

And Dr. Idit Tesler Gabay, ENT specialist from Sheba Medical Center who led the recruitment of doctors for LeMa’anam organization, said: “We meet Jewish refugees who were torn from their homes and families, and set out on a grueling journey, in some cases for over three days. We are humbled and grateful that we can provide some help in the refugee camps with our medical care and support.”


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