More than 2.5 million Israelis have now received at least their first vaccination shot against Covid-19, with almost 1.1 million having the crucial second injection. This week Israel has begun vaccinating people aged 16-18 with the intention that they should be able to return to school and take their Bagrut exams, roughly equivalent to Scottish Highers.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Finance Minister Israel Katz have announced a 9-step plan promising improved social welfare and economic stimuli to business, with a special focus on Israel's extremely important high-tech sector.
The ongoing devastating effects of Covid-19 make it all the more frustrating that in Israel, as with other countries, there are many people whose opposition to lockdown restrictions lead them to engage in dangerous and threatenting protests. Unfortunately, many people in the Haredi community distrust the government and this has led to criminal behaviour by a minority, such as the destruction of the Shivtei Yisrael tram stop in Jerusalem this evening and the ongoing violence in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv.
One thing which dismays us is when these violent people are described as "ultra Orthodox". There is no such thing. A Jewish person can be Orthodox or not; religious or secular. Attacking police officers and damaging property has precisely nothing to do with religious Judaism. According to Talmud, the principle of pikuach nefesh. that there is no greater mitzvah than to save a human life, compels observant Jews to take steps to protect life.
The latest piece of Israeli technology to tackle the problems of the pandemic is a tracking and tracing app developed by Onspota, which claims to be more accurate than the much-criticised government app, while providing less of a drain on a phone battery. With Covid-19 remaining a major problem, but the world-leading vaccination programme well under way, Israel remains 14th on the list of tests per million people (1,088,431), compared with the UK in 17th place (987,410) with the disputed territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza remaining in 92nd place (190,795).
Israel has risen again, to 11th, in the list of cases of coronavirus per million people (64,952) compared to the UK in 25th place (53,570) and the disputed territories in 59th place (30,073).
Israel has risen to 55th place in the list of deaths per million people (480 per million), still well below the UK in 5th place with 1,438 deaths per million: 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 347 deaths per million people and 66th place in the list. Both Israelis and Palestinians are therefore 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.
The impressive recovery rate of Palestinians (1.1 % death rate among reported cases, compared with 0.73 % in Israel and 2.6 % in the UK) is doubtless linked to the willingness of Israel to extend health care to even confirmed enemies of the nation such as Saeb Erekat, whose daughter pointedly thanked the "Arab doctors" treating him in hospital in Jerusalem, but not the Jewish medical staff or the country that tried to save his life.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians usually work in Israel, but many have lost jobs due to the economic downturn while others fear transmitting coronavirus to their families and neighbours when they return to the West Bank.