BEIRUT: MORE FUNERALS, MASSIVE PROTEST OVER BLAST: Beirut braced for another grim day Saturday, one filled with yet more mourning for those left dead by Lebanon’s deadliest explosion and long-simmering anger that brought out tens of thousands to protest the government’s mishandling of the massive blast.
A stockpile of explosive chemicals is being blamed for Tuesday’s explosion, which killed at least 220, injured more than 7,000 and left 300,000 homeless. The cache was being kept at a port in the capital city’s center despite at least 10 warnings over a half-dozen years from Lebanon’s customs, military, security agencies and judiciary, the Associated Press reported, citing government documents that surfaced on social media. President Michel Aoun only learned of the 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate three weeks ago, although he has been in office for four years. He told reporters he had acted immediately, ordering the military and security officials to do “what was needed.” “Do you know how many problems have been accumulating?” Aoun replied, defending himself. For millions in Lebanon, the blast showcased the failure of the country’s oppressive government to provide even something so basic as security. On Saturday, tens of thousands across the country were streaming into Beirut to show their disgust. (NYP / VFI News)
LEBANON: PROTESTERS STORM MINISTRY BUILDINGS AFTER BLAST: Lebanese protesters stormed government ministries in Beirut and trashed the offices of the Association of Lebanese Banks on Saturday as shots rang out in increasingly angry demonstrations over this week’s devastating explosion.
The protesters said their politicians should resign and be punished for negligence they say led to Tuesday’s blast, the biggest ever to hit Beirut, that killed 220 people and injured more than 7,000, compounding months of political and economic meltdown. The Red Cross said it had treated 117 people for injuries on the scene while another 55 were taken to hospital. Policemen wounded by stones were treated by ambulance workers. A fire broke out in central Martyrs’ Square. Dozens of protesters broke into the foreign ministry where they burnt a portrait of President Michel Aoun, a representative for many of a political class that has ruled Lebanon for decades and that they say is to blame for its current mess. “We are staying here. We call on the Lebanese people to occupy all the ministries,” a demonstrator said by megaphone. A policeman at the scene said the officer died when he fell into an elevator shaft in a nearby building after being chased by protesters. (JPost / VFI News)
LEBANESE DRONE SHOT DOWN IN ISRAELI AIRSPACE: The IDF downed an unmanned aircraft overnight, after it crossed into Israeli airspace from Lebanon, an Israeli military spokesperson said Friday afternoon.
The drone was shot down after it flew over the Mount Hermon area in the Golan Heights, the spokesperson said. IDF forces tracked the unmanned aircraft as it entered Israeli airspace and shot the drone down. There are searches currently underway at the scene for debris from the drone. “The IDF is on high alert on the northern front, and will not permit any violation of the sovereignty of the State of Israel,” the IDF said. A source in the IDF said that there is no connection between the incident last night and a false alarm of a drone intrusion, when warning sirens were mistakenly sounded in northern Israel Friday morning. (INN / VFI News)
DANON: LEBANON SHOULD OUST HEZBOLLAH: The international community should pressure the Lebanese government to oust the militant group Hezbollah from Lebanon in the aftermath of the explosion in the port of Beirut, outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the Jewish group B’nai B’rith on Thursday.
“We should all demand more from the Lebanese government to push Hezbollah out of the government out of the border with Israel,” said Danon. He spoke with B’nai B’rith in a virtual interview that was posted on YouTube on Thursday in the aftermath of the massive explosion at the Beirut Port that killed at least 158 people. The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined, but Danon told B’nai B’rith that while he was UN ambassador he warned the UN Security Council that Hezbollah was storing weapons at the port. “We got the intelligence and I spoke about it publicly, that [Hezbollah is] actually using the airports and the ports to transport the weapons and other things that are dangerous,” Danon said. (JPost / VFI News)
COVID COMM’R: ‘ISRAEL MUST DROP TO HUNDREDS OF DAILY CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS BY SEPTEMBER’: Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu said that no closure is planned for the State of Israel at this stage but that if the rate of infection does not trend downwards within the next two weeks, new restrictions could be possible.
Addressing the press against the backdrop of approval of his plans – including his new “traffic light” program – by the coronavirus cabinet, Gamzu stressed that rather than “closures from above, I want order – a bottom-up partnership for all of us.” “We are in a situation where a morbidity of 1,600 patients a day constantly creates a burden on the health system,” he said, noting that while the system can currently handle the situation now, Israel cannot go on this way for long. The goal of the government is to reduce the morbidity to the level of hundreds of new patients per day by September, Gamzu said. “My message to the cabinet was fully received,” he said. “Everyone understood that we want another opportunity to reduce the rate of infection even further.” (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL’S SIGHT DIAGNOSTICS RAISES $71 MILLION FOR ITS BLOOD ANALYZER: Israel’s Sight Diagnostics said on Wednesday it raised $71 million in private funding to expand sales of its finger-prick blood analyzer and support research and development.
Koch Disruptive Technologies, Longliv Ventures, which is part of the CK Hutchison Group, and Israel’s OurCrowd participated in the round, which brings Sight’s total funding to more than $124 million. The funds will support the expansion of commercial operations and advance R&D into the detection of new diseases as well as the blood factors affecting COVID-19 severity. Sight is also working with pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, to provide support for different treatment and therapy. Since early in the pandemic, Sight has deployed its analyzer in healthcare facilities fighting COVID-19, including Israel’s Sheba Tel Hashomer. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL’S EARLY EDUCATION RANKS LOW AMONG OECD COUNTRIES: Walking down the street in Israel, you see mothers with multiple children almost everywhere you go. It’s no secret that Israel has a higher fertility rate than other countries, in fact, a 2019 study done by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel proved it.
Included in the study were topics such as the quality of maternity leave, percentage of working mothers with young children, the percentage of young children in Israel who attended early education facilities, and the quality of their environment while they were there. Beginning with the ratio of children to caregivers, Israel ranks the lowest in terms of quality, as the ratio is high both in Hebrew and Arabic-speaking facilities and is measured at 50% more children to 23% fewer staff members compared to the countries who participated in the TALIS survey. However, despite this low ranking, 95% of caregivers in Israel have higher education, while 70% of care-giving staff assistants hold a higher education certificate compared to 25% of assistant staff in other OCED countries. (JPost / VFI News)
SCHOLARS TRACE CHANGES IN EARTH’S MAGNETIC FIELD SINCE 586 BCE THROUGH JERUSALEM’S RUINS: A team of Israeli researchers from the Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Antiquities Authority have been able to measure the Earth’s magnetic field on the day Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, shaping a groundbreaking contribution by the Jewish people’s long memory to preserve and reveal traces of the planet’s past.
When objects containing magnetic minerals burn at a very high temperature, those minerals are re-magnetized and therefore record the direction and the magnitude of the field in that precise moment. Artifacts like pottery, bricks and tiles, which are fired in furnaces, ovens and kilns, can all provide these records. However, as precise as their dating can be, it usually spans of at least a few decades. On the contrary, if documented by historical records, destruction layers can be pinned down to a very specific moment – in the case of Jerusalem in 586 almost to the date – providing a unique opportunity. Among the most notable remains of the building, the archaeologists noticed several fragments of a sophisticated plaster floor. Those pieces, left in the same position for millennia, proved to be essential for measuring the intensity and direction of the Earth’s magnetic field in those precise moments. (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