There was wonderful news yesterday, when it was reported for the first time in ten months that there were no new Covid deaths on Thursday. Despite this, Israelis are still being warned against "unnecessary" international travel, with the Healh Ministry issuing advice against travel to seven specific countries with high rates of infection on Thursday.
Disappointingly, the US State Department decided on Thursday to categorise Israel alongside countries with much higher rates of infection, in a list of countries which American citizens are advised not to travel to. This appears to be due to infection rates in the disputed territories being added to Israel's total, although even those are modest compared to many other countries.
The once-funny UK quiz show Have I got news for you caused considerable anger and offence two weeks ago with its racist "joke" and downright lie about Israel allegedly ignoring the Arab population in its vaccination programme. For a variety of reasons, of course, the Haredi and Arab citizens of Israel have both proved less willing to be vaccinated than their compatriots. To suggest, however, that this is in any way due to discrimination is utterly untrue but, sadly, fits the narrative of an antisemitic blood libel which far too many international media outlets have been willing to promote.
It appears that the dispute over payment between the Israeli government and Pfizer has been resolved, with the parties signing a new agreement this week which will keep vaccine supplies flowing into Israel until 2022, with an option for millions more vaccines.
With infection rates continuing to decline, Israel has fallen to 20th place for the number of coronavirus tests per million people (1,527,543), seven places below the UK (2,181,710). This compares to the disputed territories in 90th place (329,016).
Israel has fallen again, to 60th place for deaths per million people (690 per million). The UK remains in 13th place, with 1,869 deaths per million, still far higher than Israel: a testament to the heroes of Magen David Adom and all those involved in the Israeli health system. Also impressive is the statistic for the disputed territories, with only 606 deaths per million people and remaining in 67th place in the list. Both Israelis and Palestinians therefore remain much less likely to die of Covid-19 than the frequency of confirmed cases would suggest, whereas people in the UK are much more likely to die.