ISRAEL BEGINS HUMAN TRIALS FOR CORONAVIRUS VACCINE: Israel began human trials for its own coronavirus vaccine as the Jewish state’s second lockdown comes to a gradual end.
Two volunteers in separate hospitals – one in Tel Aviv and another in Jerusalem – have started the trials. If the two, Segev Harel and Aner Ottolenghi, feel in good health in the next two days, another 80 people will join the first phase of the trial. According to officials, each volunteer will get either a dose of the vaccine or a placebo and will be sent home, where they will be monitored for three weeks for any possible side effects or whether they develop antibodies. Harel said he is very proud to be part of such an important national mission and said he is not nervous. If the first phase is successful, the second phase is scheduled for December and will include nearly 1,000 volunteers. A final phase will be open to 30,000 volunteers and will begin in April 2021. (Fox / VFI News)
IDF OFFERS AID AFTER EARTHQUAKE IN TURKEY: An earthquake has struck near the Turkish city of Izmir and the Greek island of Samos. Reports say the earthquake was large, measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale. Destruction could be seen across the skyline of the city as dust rose and buildings collapsed. Flooding then occurred after the sea briefly retreated from the harbor, leaving boats on the sea bed before the water rushed in.
Soon after the disaster, Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed the IDF to prepare emergency aid for Turkey. Gantz announced that he had instructed the IDF in a tweet, adding that a conversation was opened between IDF military representatives and the Turkish military attaché in Israel. During the conversation, the IDF representatives conveyed to Turkish authorities that Israel’s defense establishment and the State of Israel share their grief over the disaster and are ready to send a delegation immediately that will help rescue buildings destroyed in the area and deploy a field hospital to treat the many wounded. (JPost / VFI News)
MUSLIM TERROR ATTACKS RISE ACROSS FRANCE: Islamists have declared war on France, a senior leader of French Jews said following multiple assaults, including the murder of three people at a church in Nice.
Gil Taieb, the vice president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, made the comments Thursday in reference to the fatal knife attacks outside the Notre Dame church of the Mediterranean coastal city. The perpetrator was shouting “Allahu akbar” — Arabic for Allah is the greatest — before he was shot and rushed to the hospital, Le Monde reported. Also on Thursday, another man shouting about Allah attempted to stab police officers in Avignon, another southern French city situated about 120 miles west of Nice. He was shot and died from his wounds, Europe1 reported. Initial reports did not say whether authorities believe the incidents were linked. “The Islamists are waging war against us!” Taieb wrote on Twitter. “We stand united against Islamist barbarism.” (TOI / VFI News)
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TO WEIGH RELOCATING EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM: The Dominican Republic is considering relocating its embassy to Jerusalem, the country’s Foreign Ministry announced over the weekend.
To date only two counties have embassies in Jerusalem; the United States and Guatemala. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has remained a diplomatically sensitive topic and as a result, most countries have placed their embassies in Tel Aviv. But several countries have indicated that they could relocate their embassies to Jerusalem including; Honduras, Brazil, Serbia and the Czech Republic. Kosovo, which does not have an embassy in Israel has spoken of opening one in Jerusalem. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi thanked his Dominican Republic counterpart Roberto Alvarez during a phone conversation between the two on Friday. (JPost / VFI News)
2,000-YEAR-OLD APOLLO SEAL UNCOVERED IN JERUSALEM: The discovery of a rare 2,000-year-old signet ring engraved with the Greek sun god Apollo gives new evidence of a pluralistic Jewry walking the streets of ancient Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, archaeologist Eli Shukron told The Times of Israel.
“It allows us to see a Jerusalem that wasn’t some kind of ultra-Orthodox city, it was more pluralistic,” Shukron said, who is convinced the ring would have adorned a Jew’s finger. The fact that a Jew chose the symbol of a Greek god, “shows the wide variety of practices in Jerusalem. Everyone was a Jew, but there were different groups and perspectives,” he said. The dark brown jasper gem sealing (intaglio) was recently discovered at the Archaeological Sifting Project at Tzurim Valley National Park during the wet sifting of earth taken from the ongoing City of David excavations of the foundations of the Western Wall. (TOI / VFI News)
IDF PREPS FOR WAR ON MULTIPLE FRONTS: The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday completed its premier exercise of the year, a large-scale simulation of war in the north against Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies, and a smaller conflict in the Gaza Strip.
The exercise, which began Sunday, was the IDF’s largest of 2020, with both regular conscripted units and reservists taking part, though its size was scaled back significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic. “This exercise is a special exercise for three main reasons: one, we set for ourselves a goal of improving our attack capability; two, this is an exercise that draws a line from the level of the battalion all the way up to the General Staff, with all the coordination and cooperation [up the chain of command] and cooperation between the different branches [of the military]; and three, this exercise has several new elements that we are assimilating [into the military],” IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said Thursday in a conversation with senior officers participating in the exercise. (TOI / VFI News)
CRISIS HOTLINE: SUICIDE CALLS HAVE DOUBLED: An Israeli crisis hotline says it is receiving an unprecedented level of suicidal calls — and many of them are from people who did not have previously diagnosed mental health issues before the pandemic started.
The current lockdown has doubled the normal volume of suicidal calls to ERAN, a non-profit that is supported by the Health Ministry. Since the onset of the coronavirus crisis, some 5,500 Israelis who are considering ending their lives have made contact. “The people calling with these thoughts are different to the people who called in the past as they considered suicide,” said the organization’s CEO David Koren. “In the past, we were talking to people with diagnosed mental health issues, but now a lot of them don’t come from this category.” Koren spoke to The Times of Israel on Thursday, as President Reuven Rivlin visited one of ERAN’s call centers for a briefing on the state of mental health in Israel. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL’S BIGGEST BEACH CLEANUP: THOUSANDS COLLECT TRASH FROM SHORES AND SEAS: Thousands of people equipped with trash bags and disposable gloves joined an effort on Friday dubbed as Israel’s biggest beach clean up, hoping to not only clear the shores but also draw policymakers’ attention to the need to better protect marine life.
Organizers estimated that between three and five tons of garbage would be collected by volunteers on Israel’s Mediterranean coast and at the Sea of Galilee throughout the course of the day. Volunteers were not only on the beach — some were on boats and diving teams also participated in the effort. Some eight million tons of plastic are thrown into the sea worldwide each year. Nearly three-quarters of the trash found in Israeli waters, in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, consists of bits of plastic bags and plastic containers, according to the National Marine Waste Monitoring Report for 2019, published on October 14. The situation is expected to be worse in 2020, with the addition of disposable masks and gloves as a result of the pandemic. (TOI / 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