Months into its mass coronavirus vaccination campaign, Israel sees a drop in COVID infections and in the number of serious cases. Israel has reopened commerce and culture for vaccinated people, but some restrictions remain on inbound and outbound flights. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 6,085 Israelis have died of the virus.
Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have received 30,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and 2,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by Israel, as well as a shipment of 60,000 vaccines via the COVAX scheme. A total of 2,055 people have died of COVID in the West Bank, while 574 have died in Gaza.
4:46 P.M. Leading Israeli organizations call to obligate workers to get vaccinated or present COVID test
The heads of the leading organizations in Israel said that the precedent-setting court ruling earlier on Sunday obligating a teaching assistant to get vaccinated or present a coronavirus test to enter the workplace should apply to all workers.
The presidents of the Manufacturers Association, the Chamber of commerce, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Israel and the Israel Farmers Association said that the court ruling "should be adopted in all workplaces. The employer should have the right to bar an unvaccinated employee from the workplace." (Netael Bandel)
2:56 P.M. Ultra-Orthodox man says young Israeli attacked him for 'spreading COVID'
An ultra-Orthodox man was assaulted on a bus in central Israel on Sunday after another passenger blamed his community for spreading COVID-19 in Israel.
According to the passenger, who was travelling to his workplace in Bnei Brak, a young man approached him on the bus and yelled, "you're the reason we suffered from COVID," and then punched the Haredi man in the abdomen and face. The victim was consequently forced to seek medical treatment.
"This is a result of the antisemitic hate speech that is being sounded against the ultra-Orthodox community," the ultra-Orthodox Kol Chai radio station, the passenger's workplace, said in a statement. (Bar Peleg and Aaron Rabinowitz)
10:50 A.M. Israel lifts travel restrictions, reopens Egypt crossing
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Restrictions on Israelis travelling in and out of the country expired on Sunday and will not be renewed, following the Supreme Court decision last week ruling that the regulations were unconstitutional.
The limit of 3,000 entries into Israel per day has therefore been scrapped, while the activity of the Exceptions Committee, which determined which unvaccinated people could leave the country, has also ceased.
The court also authorized on Saturday the reopening of the Taba crossing with Egypt, in accordance with the regulations at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Kahol Lavan ministers Benny Gantz and Orit Farkash-Hacohen reached an agreement with other ministers to facilitate the reopening in the coming days, allowing tourists to cross into the Sinai. (Ido Efrati)
9:50 A.M. In first, court backs barring teaching assistant who refused vaccine or COVID test from school
In a precedent-setting ruling, a labor court in Tel Aviv struck down a petition Sunday filed by a teaching assistant to overturn a local council decision to bar her from working without a vaccine or a coronavirus test.
The judge wrote in the verdict that the court did not believe that her rights not to receive the vaccine or get tested “outweigh the right and duty to take care of the well-being of her students, the teaching staff and the parents of the students.”
The petition was filed by the teaching assistant after the head of a local council in central Israel announced that all teaching staff would either need to present a vaccination certificate or a negative COVID-19 test every seven days in order to be granted entry into the school.
The teaching assistant refused and consequently submitted the petition to the court.
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Although the court ruling stated that making inoculations compulsory would infringe on individual rights, the local council did not oblige the teaching assistant to receive the vaccine against her will. (Bar Peleg)
10:00 P.M. Palestinian Authority to start vaccination campaign
The Palestinian Authority will begin its vaccination campaign on Sunday. The first groups to be inoculated will be medical staff, cancer patients, patients suffering renal failure and people over the age of 75.
On Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas released a picture of him being vaccinated. Palestinian pundits are questioning whether the photo was in fact taken on that day or three weeks earlier, and if the president's office just decided to release it now to coincide with the vaccine drive.
The Palestinian Authority has confirmed that it got the vaccine doses from Israel, and that among those to be inoculated are Fatah's Central Committee members above the age of 65. (Jack Khoury)
9:39 P.M. Israelis with weak immune systems are more hesitant to be vaccinated
People with weak immune systems, at a high risk for serious illness and death from the coronavirus, have received a high priority for vaccination but are hesitating as they cope with their already complicated medical conditions.
Under 80 percent of Israelis with weak immune systems have been vaccinated, compared with 86 percent of everyone 50 and over – and this latter number rises with age and increases to 90 percent when including people who have recovered from COVID-19.
A study by Maccabi Health Services shows that the vaccine may be a bit less effective for people suffering from immunosuppression, but it still significantly reduces the risk of being infected with the disease. (Ido Efrati)
5:39 P.M. Israeli scholars warn against firing workers who refuse COVID vaccine
Against the backdrop of a public debate over imposing workplace restrictions on people who have not been vaccinated, experts on labor law from various law faculties around the country have warned against such a move.
Fifteen labor law experts signed a position paper in which they say that along with the advantages of vaccination, weight must be given to the great importance of employment for people who have not been vaccinated. In addition to ensuring a safe workplace, they refer to people with disabilities who cannot get vaccinated, as well as to the strong correlation between vaccination rates and socioeconomic status. They say that a policy limiting the right to employment will mainly harm weaker segments of the labor force. (Haaretz) Read the fully story here...
11:46 A.M. Cases continue to decline with almost half of Israelis fully vaccinated
According to the latest figures from Thursday, Israel has inoculated over 5.15 million people (55.4 percent of the population), with more than 73,000 people receiving a jab on Thursday. Of the overall figure, nearly 4.5 million people (48.2 percent of the population) have received the second dose of the vaccine.
As of Thursday there 21,143 active COVID cases with 558 in serious condition. There were 655 new cases yesterday, which is a significant drop from the day before which saw 1836 new cases. (Haaretz)