Monday, January 4th, 2021 in Israel
#117 Israel Daily News Wrap
More info on the Prime Suspect in jogger Ester Horgen’s murder; Israel leads the world in vaccinations & Netanyahu tries to bring Arabs to the right wing.
- Israel has vaccinated 1 million people against COVID-19, as of Friday’s numbers, which means it has become the first country to vaccinate 10% of its population. This includes 41% of those aged over 60. Israel has far outpaced other countries so far, according to statistics from the Our World in Data website operated by Oxford University. Second place is held by Bahrain with just over 3%, followed by the UK with more than 1%, though this data is now a few days old. The U.S. stands at 0.84%. Not even one percent!. This week, a large-scale vaccination center is set to open in Tel Aviv’s famous Rabin Square, and aims to inoculate approximately 5,000 people per day. The vaccination booths will be operated by medical staff from Ichilov Hospital, starting with vaccinating Tel Aviv residents over 60, and then later, all Israeli citizens.
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to campaign heavily for Arab votes in the coming election, which is scheduled for March 23. During a visit to the northern Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm to encourage vaccination against coronavirus and congratulate the one-millionth Israeli to get vaccinated, Netanyahu said that the Arab vote has “huge potential.” He said, “For many, many years the Arab public was outside the mainstream of leadership. Why? There’s no reason. People contribute, people work. Let’s go all the way. Be part of the full success story of Israel. That’s what I would like to be exemplified in the election.” He also cited the four historic peace agreements with Arab nations as reasons why Arab citizens should see the great things Israel has done. Channel 13 reports that Netanyahu, hoping to break the traditional pattern in elections, is planning on heavily courting the Arab vote. He hopes that Arab support will help him gain two Knesset seats and reduce backing for the Arab-majority Joint List. Both tactics, ideally, would make it easier for him to form a coalition after the election in March. During a different talk in an Arab town of Tirah, Netanyahu said he’s not ruling out placing an Arab lawmaker on his right-wing list.
- We’ve been covering the story of Ester Horgen, the 52-year-old mother of 6 who was murdered while out on a run near her home in Tal Menashe, a small settlement in the West Bank. Now, The Shin Bet security service says they have an official prime suspect. 40-year-old Muhammad Mruh Kabha, from Tura al-Gharbiya near Jenin, is the Shin Bet’s suspect. They believe he carried out this terror attack as revenge for the death of a Palestinian prisoner, who died of cancer six weeks before. The Shin Bet say Kabha confessed to climbing into the Jewish settlement area through a hole in the fence and then waited in the forest for someone to walk by and attack. The victim fought him back, but couldn’t win. He has a criminal record and served time in Israeli jail, but is not apparently tied to any terrorist groups. Kabha was hidden after the murder by 4 people 2 of which were his wives. All have been arrested.
- We’ve also been covering the sale of the US ambassador’s residence in Israel in the beach city of Herzliya … and now there’s an update. The Donald Trump administration has officially sold the 1.2 acre land to the big time casino owner, Sheldon Adelson who supports Trump very much. Apparently, the idea is to finalize the american embassy being in jerusalem, and not having a residence north of tel aviv where the old US embassy used to be located. Usually ambassador residences are reasonably close to the embassies. The sale is supposed to take place in March of 2021 and by then, U.S. president elect Joe Biden will have a new Israeli ambassador in the position.
- 300 new Ethiopian immigrants just made aliyah on January 1st, in the first immigration flights of 2021. In 2015, the Israeli government decided to help the last remaining Jews in Ethiopia make aliyah. However, the process has been slow. Stability in Ethiopia has deteriorated in the last year, due to an armed internal conflict within the Tigray region, prolonged food shortages, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Efforts to bring the rest of the Ethiopian Jews to Israel are still underway.
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Podcast closing song: Ianir Kilinsky’s Kol Ba Yaar. He’s a Latino multi instrumentalist inspired by different landscapes and ethnic groups he’s visited around the world. Today he lives in Israel with his wife and 5 kids. He says he’s bringing ethnic color to traditional Jewish songs and melodies.
Have a great and productive day & an excellent week!
This news wrap is the transcript from the Israel Daily News Podcast with Shanna Fuld.