GAMZU: 40% OF NEW VIRUS CASES ARE ULTRA-ORTHODOX: Forty percent of all new coronavirus infections are coming from the ultra-Orthodox, coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu said Thursday, amid increasing concern over morbidity rates in the community.
Gamzu told a press conference that 40 percent of those recently diagnosed with the coronavirus were ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, though the community constitutes only approximately 12 percent of the population. He noted that cases among the older members of that community were on the rise. “It is disturbing that the proportion of patients over the age of 60 in ultra-Orthodox society is rising,” Gamzu said, in comments that appeared to support a statement from Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy on Wednesday that there was a “steep increase” in the death rate from COVID-19 within that community. Gamzu also said the surge in cases on Wednesday was due to a lag from the weekend and Yom Kippur when most testing centers and labs were closed. (TOI / VFI News)
EU REFUSES STOPGAP AID TO PA AMID REFUSAL OF ISRAEL-COLLECTED TAX FUNDS: The EU turned down requests from Ramallah for additional aid, as long as the Palestinians refuse to accept their own money because it is collected by Israel.
“No stopgap extra funding should be expected…if they do not accept their own money,” an EU diplomat said on Wednesday. The PA will, however, continue to get the aid it usually receives from the EU. All imports to the PA go through Israeli checkpoints, and Israel collects VAT and tariffs for the PA. Those funds are the largest source of income for the PA. Israel also collects income tax and health insurance funds for Palestinians who work for Israelis. In May, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he is stopping cooperation with Israel, in anticipation of Israel applying sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. (JPost / VFI News)
FATAH TEACHES STUDENTS TO REJECT NORMALIZATION: The Fatah Shabiba Student Movement organized an activity against normalization at the Al-A’amiriya High School for Girls in Qalqilya, as part of the Shabiba Student Movement’s educational program for school students and in the framework of the medical protocol guidelines.
Shabiba Student Movement coordinator of activities at the schools for girls Hanaa Al-Haj Hassan, school principal Hanaa Ja’aydi, representatives of the Directorate of Education (i.e., branch of the PA Ministry of Education), and female school students participated in the activity. In her speech, Hanaa Al-Haj Hassan emphasized the position of the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people, which rejects normalization with the Israeli occupation. She explained that normalization is a betrayal of the Palestinian cause, of the blood of the tens of thousands of martyrs, and the sacrifices of the hundreds of thousands of heroic prisoners…. The female school students participated in several activities against normalization, and the school principal thanked the Shabiba Student [Movement] for being sure to spread national awareness among the female students.” (PMW / VFI News)
JEWISH SCIENTIST SHARES NOBEL FOR HEP C DISCOVERY: Americans Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice and British-born scientist Michael Houghton jointly won the Nobel Prize for medicine on Monday for their discovery of the hepatitis C virus, a major source of liver disease that affects millions worldwide.
Announcing the prize in Stockholm, the Nobel Committee noted that the trio’s work identified a major source of blood-borne hepatitis that couldn’t be explained by the previously discovered hepatitis A and B viruses. Their work, dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, has helped save millions of lives, it said. “Thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available and these have essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health,” the committee said. (TOI / VFI News)
BROTHERS OF EXECUTED IRANIAN WRESTLER HELD IN SOLITARY: An Iranian regime prison guard beat the brothers of executed wrestler Navid Afkari, Vahid and Habib, who are now being held incommunicado, raising growing fears that “something bad is in store for them, too,” according to a Monday report.
A source close to the devastated Afkari family said it had been more than 16 days since they have had any news of the brothers. The information they had received before this was contradictory in places, exacerbating their worries. The family understands that Vahid and Habib are in solitary confinement, and have now recovered after recently being beaten by a prison guard. Judiciary and prison officials are misleading the family. The prison officials say it’s out of their hands; they say they have orders from higher up not to transfer them to public wards and to keep them in solitary confinement. The source continued that “The brothers do not have the right to visitation or a phone call, and upon going to the deputy prosecutor supervising the prison, they were told they were not allowed to talk to their family.” (JPost / VFI News)
OLYMPICS WILL NOT DISCUSS IRAN’S MURDER OF WRESTLER: The agenda for Wednesday’s International Olympic Committee executive board meeting omits the Iranian regime’s execution of the champion wrestler Navid Afkari, prompting calls for IOC president Thomas Bach to include Afkari’s execution in its agenda and sanction the clerical regime in Tehran.
When asked if the IOC plans to sanction Iran’s regime and raise Afkari in its agenda, an unnamed committee spokesperson said that, “For your information, you will find here the schedule for tomorrow’s IOC Executive Board committee’s meeting.” Rob Koehler, the Director-General of Global Athlete, a sports human rights advocacy organization, wrote on Twitter: “The Olympics Executive Committee meets Wednesday 7 October… How about under miscellaneous you include: 1. Suspending Iran @Olympic_ir #Justice4Navid #navidafkarai.” Koehler included the Twitter handle for Iran’s Olympic chapter and the hashtags in support of Navid Afkari. (JPost / VFI News)
CZECH REPUBLIC TO MOVE EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM: The Czech Republic is ready to take further steps towards moving its embassy to Israel to Jerusalem, a spokesman for Czech President Miloš Zeman said on Monday.
The government committed to “further strengthening of our representation in Jerusalem,” in a readout from a meeting of top Czech government officials, including Zeman and the country’s prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister, interior minister, and parliament speaker. Zeman’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček explained that moving the Czech embassy to Jerusalem is one of the president’s long-term goals. Prague opened a “Czech House” in Jerusalem in November 2018, meant to be a first step towards opening an embassy in the capital. The house includes a cultural center, branches of the Czech Republic’s trade and tourism offices, and a space for the Czech Ambassador to hold meetings in the capital. (JPost / VFI News)
INDIA’S BNEI MENASHE COMMUNITY CELEBRATES SUKKOT: The Bnei Menashe Jewish community in northeastern India celebrated Sukkot this week, and within their prayers, they requested to make aliyah to Israel—as has been the dream of the community for years.
The Bnei Menashe ethnic group is said to number at around 10,000 total, and are believed by many to be descended from one of the Ten Lost Tribes, specifically that of Menashe. They were recognized as members of a lost tribe in 2005 by then-Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Atar, though he did specify they would need to formally convert. To date, more than 4,000 members of the community have made aliyah to Israel—some 6,500 still live in India. Within their “exile,” the community observes and practices Jewish tradition (i.e. observe the sabbath, keep kosher and celebrate the holidays on the Jewish calendar). In partnership with the Absorption Ministry and the Interior Ministry, around 722 Bnei Menashe will be making aliyah following the High Holy Days. (JPost / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff