Updated: 21 July 2020
Israel is now 21st in the list of countries worldwide for the number of coronavirus tests (160,635) per million people, seven places below the UK with 198,205.
Following the recent spike, Israel has risen to 24th in the list of cases of coronavirus per million people (5,728). compared to the UK in 37th (4,350), but remains 68th in the list of deaths per million people (44 per million) compared to the UK in 4th place with 667 deaths per million: a testament to the heroes of Magen David Adom and all those involved in the Israeli health system.
What about life in the disputed territories?
Cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been described as "excellent" by the United Nations. The disputed territories commonly known as the West Bank and Gaza remain 80th in the number of cases per million people and have risen slightly to 115th for the number of deaths per million; still much better than Israel. As the number of cases begins to rise, they have are now 93rd place for the number of tests per million people.
Of course, it is not all good news. 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.
This Passover was different to all other Passovers
This may have been the first time since the very first Passover more than 3000 years ago that Jews worldwide have been warned to stay indoors to avoid a plague. Of course, there have been localised events since then which have prevented families gathering together for seder meals but, as far as we know, nothing that has affected the entire Jewish community.
As with almost every country, there is a massive and delicate balancing act between, on the one hand, pressure for a lockdown to protect public health and the devastating economic effects that any shutdown brings. In Israel, there has been a reported disagreement between the Health Ministry and Finance Ministry as to how soon restrictions can be lifted.
Updated: 8 July 2020
We are delighted by the news that El Al has been saved in a deal which is likely to lead to it being nationalised.
As Israel's flag carrier, El Al is a significant part of Israel's public face and it was unthinkable that the airline could have been allowed to close.
Earlier in the crisis, we were greatly enthused by many of the statistics coming out of Israel, particularly when compared with the UK. With the second wave well under way and the number of active cases at an all time high it is clear that our optimism was somehat premature.
The haredi city of Beitar Illit had a new seven-day lockdown imposed yesterday and it was reported this evening that the government is looking at imposing new lockdowns in nine more cities.
The unity government was stung on Wednesday afternoon by President Reuven Rivlin attacking its lack of planning to deal with the pandemic. Government advisor Dr Eli Waxman went even further, saying that the government has lost control.
Very worryingly, an entire IDF battalion has been quarantined as a result of a female soldier's birthday party leading to several of her colleagues testing positive for coronavirus. The Nachshon Battalion is part of the Kfir Brigade, Israel's largest infantry brigade which was created in 2005 to deal with terrorist threats.
Dr Udi Kliner, deputy Director of Health Services, reported to the Knesset on Tuesday that schools had proved to be a major source of infection. This being the case, it may be prudent for the Scottish government to review its proposal for schools to fully re-open in just over a month from now.