The Health Ministry reported the death of one new patient from Covid-19 on May 19, bringing the total death toll to 277. Only 29 new cases were reported on May 18, making the number of active cases 3,074, and the number of total cases 16,650. Israel has the capacity to test 15,000 patients a day. The small number of new patients has allowed the government to partially ease confinement orders with the goal of reopening school the week of May 17. Meanwhile, the Israeli Cabinet voted to allow Israelis to return from abroad to isolate themselves in government facilities or at home.
An Israeli soldier died on May 12, during an Israeli Defense Forces raid to arrest four individuals in the West Bank city of Yabed. According to the accounts of fellow soldiers, a group of young Palestinians started throwing rocks at them, hitting and killing 21 years old Sgt. first class Amit Ben-Ygal from above. Defense Ministry Naftali Bennett said, “The IDF and security forces will get their hands on the degenerate terrorists who are responsible for this.”
Israel’s new government was sworn in on May 17, ending a year and a half of political instability which led to three elections. The new government is Israel’s largest in history with 36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers. Benjamin Netanyahu remains the prime minister until October 2021 when Benny Gantz will take over the role.
China’s ambassador to Israel Du Wei, age 58, was found dead in his home north of Tel Aviv on May 17. Authorities said the ambassador appeared to have died of natural causes. Although China and Israel benefit from a good relationship, mild tensions have arisen as a result of the concerns the U.S. has over China’s multiple investments in Israel.
According to a report released on May 8, a cyberattack targeted at two water supply locations as they were trying to contain the coronavirus on April 24 and 25. Analysts suspect that Iran was behind the attack. Authorities eliminated the threat quickly before any damage was incurred. The IDF neither confirmed or denied the reports, while an Iranian official said its country does not engage in cyber warfare although it has done so in the past.
An Israeli court convicted Michael Peretz, an Israeli who made millions of dollars smuggling to Hamas, of crimes that “damaged the security of the state.” Peretz sold goods such as concrete, pipes, metals and electronic equipment. Hamas used some of the goods that he sold in order to build attack tunnels
A Palestinian man driving a car deliberately hit an Israeli soldier on May 14, in Hebron Hills, southern West Bank. According to the ambulance services, the injured soldier was in a serious condition when he arrived at the hospital. Another soldier at the scene shot dead the driver of the vehicle.
Border police officers at the Qalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem opened fire on a Palestinian assailant who tried to stab security officers. The incident took place on May 12. The assailant was neutralized and taken to the hospital after being shot in the leg or stomach.
The Egyptian army raided an insurgent hideout in North Sinai on May 15 killing seven terrorists. The operation also yielded the military explosive belts, machine guns, and sniper rifles.
Twelve U.S. lawmakers, including the chairs and ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stating that the Multinational Force Organization (MFO) in Sinai is ‘vital’ to the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. This comes one week after Esper announced the Pentagon is considering the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the peacekeeping force.
Egypt temporarily reopened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza three days last week in order to allow Palestinians stranded in Egypt to return home to the enclave. Egypt shut the crossing in mid-March in order to curb the spread of the Covid-19.
JPC intern Sacha Warnod compiled this report.