IRAN NATANZ BOMB COULD HAVE BEEN PLANTED 10-15 YEARS AGO: Former prime minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that a bomb that caused severe damage at Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility was likely placed there more than a decade ago, waiting for the right time to be detonated.
While specifying repeatedly that he had no direct knowledge of the operation, or who was behind it, Olmert said such an attack would have been the fruit of long-laid plans. He also slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, blaming him for a series of leaks to Israeli and foreign media that attributed the strike to Israel’s Mossad spy agency. Iranian officials on Tuesday confirmed that the blast at the site caused significant harm, damaging or destroying thousands of centrifuges. Iran has blamed Israel, calling the attack an act of “nuclear terrorism.” (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAELI SCIENTISTS MAY HAVE FOUND BRAIN’S ‘HUNGER SWITCH’: New Israeli research may pave the way for drugs that “turn off the hunger switch” in the human brain with minimal side effects, scientists say.
A receptor in the brain, melanocortin 4 (MC4), is known to control the urge to eat. It has been dubbed the “hunger switch.” A genetically inherited malfunction with this receptor is believed to be the most common cause of obesity that is triggered by a single gene mutation, impacting an estimated 5 percent of early-onset childhood obesity. Now, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have conducted research that they say could bring about easy manipulation of the receptor among people with such a mutation. They say it could even be used to help people who don’t have a genetic condition that directly impacts the MC4 in their efforts to lose weight, by treating the receptor as an “override” switch. When “turned off,” they say, it could suppress regular hunger. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL NEARING HERD IMMUNITY: Israel is approaching herd immunity against corona, which has allowed the country to celebrate recent holidays and gradual rounds of openings without experiencing any new outbreaks, according to the head of the immunotherapy laboratory at Bar-Ilan University.
“My opinion is that we are nearing the state of herd immunity,” said Prof. Cyrille Cohen. “Why do I say it? Because even after so many openings, and Purim, and Passover, the reproduction rate of the virus in Israel has remained between 0.7 and 0.8.” The reproduction rate, or ‘R’, measures how many people each virus carrier will infect. When it is lower than 1, the disease is considered in recession. (JPost / VFI News)
AFTER LOCKDOWN, ISRAELIS BACK AT PARKS FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY: Hundreds of thousands of Israelis flocked to beaches and parks across the country Thursday, barbecuing, waving flags, and craning their necks for a glimpse of the Air Force fighter jets’ flyby to mark the country’s 73rd Independence Day.
While most wore face coverings or had masks strapped around their chins, the scenes looked nearly identical to those from the pre-coronavirus era. After an early wave of the pandemic tamed celebrations significantly last year, Israelis were allowed to celebrate freely this year, with restrictions drawn back almost entirely. As a result, families flocked to national parks and beaches, filling many to full capacity. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority issued a statement early Thursday afternoon urging civilians to avoid traveling to the Tel Ashkelon National Park in the coming hours due to overcrowding. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL’S SCHOOLS RETURN TO ‘NORMAL’ ON SUNDAY: The Education Ministry published on Friday the framework for returning to “normal” full-time schooling on Sunday. Studies will resume six days per week without capsules and with no restriction on the movement of teachers, aides, or students.
Supplementary education classes, such as support for new immigrants, will also return in full, as will after-school programs available for youth in preschools through third grade. The opening will be done under a stricter intervention model – the “Adjusted” Defending Education program – for dealing with outbreaks, allowing for wide monitoring and prevention of spread. (JPost / VFI News)
MASK WEARING OUTSIDE NO LONGER REQUIRED AS OF SUNDAY: Israel lifted the requirement to wear masks outdoors starting on Sunday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced on Thursday. The requirement will remain for indoor spaces.
“The masks are intended to protect us from the coronavirus,” said Edelstein. “After our health professionals came to the conclusion that they are no longer needed outdoors, I decided to allow it according to their recommendation. The level of morbidity in Israel is very low thanks to our successful vaccination campaign, and thus we can ease up further restrictions for you, citizens of Israel. I ask you to still carry a mask in order to enter closed buildings. Together we will keep the morbidity low.” The move had been under discussion for several weeks, but authorities decided to wait until the end of Remembrance Day and Independence Day, fearing that mask-less celebrations might lead to a spike in cases. (JPost / VFI News)
DESPITE COVID, MORE THAN 20,000 OLIM CAME TO ISRAEL THIS YEAR: From last Independence Day to this one, 20,456 new olim came to Israel despite the difficulties caused by corona, according to data published by the Aliyah and Integration Ministry.
Among them are 3,208 who work in marketing and trade, 812 in medical fields, and 517 in education. Most of the 18-35 age group work in the social sciences, a majority of them in technology. Children under the age of 18 comprised 4,748 olim, and 420 specifically came to Israel to serve in the IDF. (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