GOVERNMENT WILL NOT IMPOSE NEW RESTRICTIONS OVER HANUKKAH: The government will not impose new restrictions over the Hanukkah holiday despite the continued rise in coronavirus cases, it was announced just before the holiday began.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein agreed to wait until after the holiday to consider such restrictions following opposition from several ministers in the government. The proposal for a night curfew will be dropped from the agenda and restrictions under the National Security Council’s tightened restraint program will enter into force only when the number of new coronavirus cases reaches 2,500 per day.Under the Health Ministry draft recommendations which were submitted to the ministers, from December 10 to December 18, from 17:30 in the evening to 00:00 midnight, citizens would have been prohibited from staying in homes other than their place of residence in localities with a Jewish majority. (INN / VFI News)
BURJ KHALIFA LIGHTS UP FOR HISTORIC DUBAI HANUKKAH CELEBRATIONS: Dubai’s legendary Burj Khalifa lit up on Thursday evening to mark the celebration of a very special first night of Hanukkah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the first since the historic Abraham Accords.
“You are witnessing Jewish history,” Singer Yishai Lapidot said as he performed for the audience during the candle lighting while the tallest skyscraper in the world displayed a dazzling light show behind him. The event was hosted by Rabbi Levi Duchman of the UAE, who has been hosting Hanukkah in Dubai for the past six years. “The message behind Hanukkah is to spread light over darkness. And I see the UAE as the brightest light in this region,” Rabbi Duchman told Gulf News on Wednesday. He added that the Jewish community would be celebrating Hanukkah with events “all over Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” in order to involve the wider community in the UAE as well. (JPost / VFI News)
SIBERIAN SYNAGOGUE ERECTS 10-FOOT MENORAH MADE OF ICE: A synagogue in Tomsk, a Siberian city in Russia, has unveiled a giant Hanukkah menorah made of ice.
The 10-foot menorah was erected Tuesday inside the synagogue yard. Tomsk, a city of roughly 500,000, is located about 2,000 miles east of Moscow. The menorah was made by Seva Mayorov, a local non-Jewish artist whose work also features regularly at the annual Tomsk Ice Park exhibition, which attracts thousands of tourists to the city annually. Tomsk carries symbolism for Russian Jewry. In 1876, it saw the erection of a different synagogue, built by Jews who were conscripted as child soldiers, often against their will, to serve in the czar’s army. This year is the second time that Tomsk has boasted an ice menorah, but it features some upgrades to last year’s version, including colorful LED lights that run through it and elaborate crown-shaped tips, according to the local rabbi, Levy Kaminetsky, a Chabad emissary who moved with his wife, Gitty, to Tomsk in 2004. (INN / VFI News)
RISE IN ISRAELI STRIKES IN SYRIA CORRELATES TO DECREASE IN IRANIAN ACTIVITY: Iran’s entrenchment in Syria is slowing down as a result of ongoing IDF operations which have increased over the past year, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi announced Friday. The IDF chief also revealed for the first time that the military has carried out cyberattacks.
“The Iranian entrenchment in Syria is in a clear slowdown as a result of IDF activity, but we still have a long way to go to complete our goals in this arena,” he said. The past year has seen an increase in pace and quality of Israeli strikes against Iranian assets in Syria, including kinetic operations as well as an expansion of both covert and clandestine ones. “We have struck over 500 targets this year, on all fronts, in addition to multiple clandestine missions,” Kochavi said. (JPost / VFI News)
LEBANESE PM CHARGED OVER BEIRUT PORT BLAST: A judge investigating the Beirut port explosion this past August has charged Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab and three former ministers with negligence over the blast that killed 200 people and devastated swathes of the capital.
Diab said in response that his conscience was clear and accused the judge of breaching the constitution. Judge Fadi Sawan called Diab and former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil in for questioning next week, along with former public works ministers Ghazi Zeaiter and Youssef Finianos. Zeaiter, who said he would comment once he was officially informed, headed the public works ministry in 2014, soon after the Rhosus ship carrying tons of ammonium nitrate arrived at Beirut port. The highly explosive chemicals were stored for years in poor conditions at the port. (INN / VFI News)
OMAN WELCOMES MOROCCO, ISRAEL NORMALIZATION: Oman welcomed Morocco’s announcement that it was establishing diplomatic ties with Israel and hoped the move would strengthen efforts towards a lasting and just peace in the Middle East, its foreign ministry said on Friday.
Israel and Morocco agreed on Thursday to normalize relations in a deal brokered with US help, making Morocco the fourth Arab country after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan to set aside hostilities with Israel in the past four months. In a departure from longstanding US policy, President Donald Trump agreed as part of the deal to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara. “(Oman) welcomes what Morocco’s King Mohammed VI announced in his phone calls with US President Trump and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and hopes this will further endeavors to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” the statement said, without specifically mentioning what had been announced. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL ACCEPTED INTO INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY: The State of Israel has been accepted into the International Energy Agency (IEA) after members of the agency voted unanimously in favor of the move.
This is the first step towards becoming an official member of the IEA. The move came to fruition thanks to a joint diplomatic effort on the part of the Foreign Ministry backed by Israel’s delegation to international organizations in Paris, alongside the Ministry of Energy. The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an organization that unites the largest energy consumers in the world and manages global energy costs while providing its members an international platform for the management of the national energy economy. Israel’s admission into the prestigious organization is another reminder of the critical role the Jewish State plays in the regional and international energy sector, as well as its participation in fostering renewable energy and green energy sources. As a result of this development, Israel will now have access to critical sources of industry research and be able to connect with leading international players in these fields. (INN / VFI News)
NETANYAHU TO MAKE FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT TO EGYPT IN MORE THAN A DECADE: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to head to Egypt for a state visit in the coming days, at the request of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, officials in Cairo have confirmed to Israel Hayom. The official visit will be the first by an Israeli prime minister to the country in more than 10 years.
Netanyahu is expected to discuss a series of regional issues with the Egyptian leader, chief among them bolstering security and diplomatic ties in light of the Iranian threat and coordinating positions between Jerusalem and Cairo ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s entry into the White House. Netanyahu and el-Sisi are also expected to discuss the possibility of renewing talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as efforts by mediators in the Egyptian intelligence services to achieve a deal for the Gaza Strip. (JNS / 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