Wednesday, March 18, 2020

From Ian:

JCPA: Enforcing Compliance with COVID-19 Pandemic Restrictions: Psychological Aspects of a National Security Threat
As the world faces the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many commentators and national leaders around the world are beginning to recognize it as a genuine national security threat.

In human behavior terms, however, the threat is not from an external enemy but from citizens who refuse to comply with guidelines and instructions and fail to change their behavior to adapt to the developing situation. With the coronavirus, the individual refusing to comply is an active and ongoing threat to others as well as or sometimes more than to themselves.

The obvious threats are the outright refusers. From a psychological perspective, these are people who are either oppositional in their attitude or in denial regarding the effects of their refusal. While the former understand that by intentionally violating guidelines they are creating risk for others, the latter deny it, at times adopting an "it won't happen to me" attitude.

Classifying the refusers' behavior as a risk and treating them as a genuine threat is a national priority. Since the cadre of those who intentionally or unintentionally put the public at risk cannot be eliminated solely through education and social pressure, law enforcement and government authorities may have to intervene.

While understandably not popular with those that value the protection of civil liberties, the suspension of these protections in times of national emergency may prove to be central in reducing mortality, as well as in limiting the economic consequences of a protracted battle with an unseen enemy hiding in a friendly population.
'Total lockdown inevitable' says Erdan as coronavirus patients reaches 433
As of Wednesday afternoon, 433 people in Israel have been confirmed positive to the coronavirus, the Health Ministry informed, with six new cases registered since the previous update.

Earlier in the day, the Ministry revealed that the number of patients had spiked in the country, with over 100 new people confirmed positive in the previous 24 hours.

Moreover, it was announced that over 2,200 tests were performed on Tuesday, more than double the amount of the previous days, highlighting a significant rise in the number of tests executed.

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said on Wednesday morning that a total lockdown in Israel is inevitable given the situation of the novel COVID-19.

Erdan instructed the police and other security forces in Israel to prepare for the decision of a total lockdown in a phone call with the heads of internal security bodies throughout the country on Tuesday evening.

Of the 427 people infected in Israel as of Wednesday morning, 236 are hospitalized, 26 are in the process of being hospitalized, 71 are isolated at home or in a designated hotel, and 83 tested positive but the decision on how to treat them is yet to be made, while 11 already recovered and were discharged.



Israel has not lost anybody to COVID19, but that will not go on, warns Netanyahu


'I survived the Nazis, we'll get through this'
"I'm 85 and live in Tel Aviv. I was born in Galicia, which is now Ukraine," Shosh Trister tells Israel Hayom.

During the Holocaust, she says, she and her family were sent to a labor camp, from which they escaped and managed to make it back to the area where they had lived. They found various hiding places – including the forest, and with gentile families.

"For two years, we lived underground, nine people underneath a pigpen," Trister says.

In 1950, Trister made aliyah.

"At first, we lived in a ma'abra [immigrant camp] in Kfar Saba. Mom and Dad got typhus there and were hospitalized. I remember it as a very hard time, because I was far away. I thought it would be a day or two, but it was a few weeks. After the Holocaust, it was a major blow. I stayed in tent and cried."

Now, as the novel coronavirus outbreak is posing a new kind of threat to the Israeli population, Trister is confined to her home.

"It's very hard for me. Hard isn't the word – the distance makes me cry. When I'm alone, I remember the loneliness, my mother and father, and my husband, Shlomo, who died four and a half months ago," she says.

"I'm used to being an active person, going out, speaking to students, painting. Every day, I [usually] walk to our local community center and meet my friends. Now, I'm forced to stay home alone. Every morning I exercise on at home, water the plants, take care of the apartment, and then I sit down to write or paint my memories.

"I have a son who takes care of me. He comes and does my shopping. The rest of the kids also call, but it's terribly hard not seeing them."

Despite everything she has experienced in her life, Trister says she is "an optimist by nature."

"What we went through dwarfs everything. We might be stuck at home, but we have the freedom of being in Israel. We survived the Holocaust. In the end, we won. We'll beat corona, and get through it. We are strengthening everyone around us and taking strength from them. It will all be over – they'll find a cure and we'll go back to our daily routines. We overcame everything, and so will you – we owe it to future generations.



Nobel laureate: surprised if Israel has more than ten coronavirus deaths
No more than 10 people will die in Israel as a result of the novel coronavirus disease known as COVID-19, Nobel Prize laureate Michael Levitt predicted on Wednesday as the government continued to impose additional restrictions on the general population.

Levitt said that fears in Israel over the coronavirus were disproportionate to the threat, and that the number of cases in the country was uncertain due to reporting variances. "I will be surprised if the number of deaths in Israel surpasses 10," he said, adding that the Jewish state was "not on the world map for the disease."

Levitt has risen to prominence in recent weeks thanks to his successful forecast of the slowdown in the rate of infection in mainland China last month. By looking at statistics emerging on the number of people infected and the number of deaths, Levitt identified a bounded growth pattern, showing that instead of the rate of infection increasing exponentially, it started to tail off.

An American-British-Israeli biophysicist who won the 2013 Nobel Prize for chemistry, Levitt predicted earlier this week that there will be no new infections in China by the end of March.

Speaking to Kan's Reshet Bet radio on Wednesday, Levitt, who lives part-time in Tel Aviv, said that on a global scale, the number of cases in Israel is very small.
Netanyahu Recruits Founder of $15 Billion Start-Up Mobileye to Join Coronavirus Team
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appointed the founder of one of Israel’s most successful tech companies to advise him on the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Amnon Shashua is a professor of computer science at Hebrew University who founded Mobileye in 1999. The company develops technologies for autonomous vehicles and was acquired by Intel in 2017 for $15 billion, the largest deal of its kind in Israeli history.

According to Israeli news site N12, Shashua has been appointed economic affairs adviser to Netanyahu and has been engaged in extensive discussions on the state of the Israeli economy as it faces a near-total shutdown of businesses, services, schools and travel.

One of Shashua’s tasks is to participate in drawing up a plan to deal with the reduction of the labor force due to the fact that many workers are being told not to leave their homes. While many are able to work remotely, the majority cannot.

Shashua was heavily involved in a decision to place many workers on unpaid leave and mandate major reductions in attendance at places of work.
Ben Shapiro Reviews Infection Models And Strategies To Combat The Coronavirus
Ben goes over infection models created by the Washington Post that shows how infections can spread depending on the different strategies being implemented.


Trump Presses for $1 Trillion Stimulus as US Coronavirus Deaths Cross 100
The Trump administration pressed on Tuesday for enactment of a $1 trillion stimulus package, possibly to include $1,000 direct payments to individual Americans, to blunt the economic pain from a coronavirus outbreak that has killed over 100 people in the country.

With cases of the respiratory illness reported in all 50 states and the total number of known US infections surging past 6,400, millions of Americans hunkered down at home instead of commuting to work or going to school.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was weighing whether to order the city’s 8.5 million residents to “shelter in place” at home, as state and local officials escalated “social distancing” policies by closing schools, restaurants and theaters to curb the spread of the virus.

“It’s a very, very difficult decision,” de Blasio said. “We’ve never been here before.” The state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, told CNN he did not think it would work.

About 6.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay area have already been ordered to stay home for all but the most crucial outings until April 7. Eateries, bars, gyms and other “non-essential” businesses were shut down, but marijuana dispensaries were allowed to stay open as cannabis was deemed an “essential medicine” by health authorities.

“It’s like living in a ‘Twilight Zone,'” said Rowan Oake, 36, during a jog through San Francisco’s Presidio Park. “You can feel the anxiety in the air.”
World Health Organization backs call to avoid ibuprofen for coronavirus
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that people with COVID-19 symptoms avoid taking ibuprofen, after concerns were raised by French officials that it may make the virus more harmful.

A recent study in medical journal The Lancet theorizing that an enzyme boosted by ibuprofen could enable and exacerbate COVID-19 infections led France's Health Minister Olivier Veran to suggest via social media that the medicine be avoided.

Questioned on the study by reporters in Geneva, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said that experts were "looking into this to give further guidance."

"In the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol, and do not use ibuprofen as a self-medication. That's important," he said.

If ibuprofen had been "prescribed by the healthcare professionals, then, of course, that's up to them," he added.

Ibuprofen is sold under a number of brand names, including Nurofen and Advil.


Pompeo: The International Criminal Court Is an Embarrassment. We Are Confronting Its Abuses
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said Tuesday: "The ICC, a so-called court...is revealing itself to be a nakedly political body....We oppose any effort by the ICC to exercise jurisdiction over U.S. personnel. We will not tolerate its inappropriate and unjust attempts to investigate or prosecute Americans. When our personnel are accused of a crime, they face justice in our country."

"It has recently come to my attention that the chef de cabinet to the prosecutor, Sam Shoamanesh, and the head of the jurisdiction, complementarity, and cooperation division, Phakiso Mochochoko, are helping drive ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's effort to use this court to investigate Americans. I'm examining this information now and considering what the United States' next steps ought to be with respect to these individuals....We want to identify those responsible for this partisan investigation and their family members who may want to travel to the United States."

"This court, the ICC, is an embarrassment. We are exposing and confronting its abuses...to ensure that multilateral institutions actually perform the missions for which they were designed."
PMW: PMW submits brief to the International Criminal Court
In the submission, (click here to read the submission in PDF format) we raised a number of points:

1) There is no "State of Palestine.” In the brief, we explain how the Palestinian entity fails to meet what are known as the “Montevideo Criteria”. These are the internationally applied criteria for deciding whether a certain entity can be recognized as a State.

2) The reliance of the ICC Prosecutor on highly political United Nations General Assembly resolutions is mistaken and without legal basis.

3) The Oslo Accords left a number of subjects open for further negotiations between Israel and the PLO, including Jerusalem, settlements, Palestinian refugees, and borders. Accordingly, it would be impossible to recognize a "State of Palestine" that encompasses all of the territories that came under Israeli control in 1967.

4) The Prosecutor's request to demarcate the "borders" of the "State of Palestine" based on what the Palestinians consistently refer to as the "1967 borders" is erroneous and misleading. The so-called “1967 borders” are really the armistice lines drawn in 1949 at the end of Israel’s War of Independence. While Israel was willing to accept these lines as the borders of the new State of Israel, it was the Arab counties that adamantly refused. They remained cease-fire lines until they were replaced by new cease-fire lines after the 1967 Six Day –War.

5) The Oslo Accords never granted the PA any criminal jurisdiction over Israelis and accordingly, the PA cannot delegate to the ICC any criminal jurisdiction regarding Israelis. This is of fundamental importance, since the ICC operates on the basis of delegation of a state’s criminal jurisdiction. If no jurisdiction existed, then no jurisdiction can be delegated.

6) While the PA may have been given limited powers and jurisdiction in certain parts of the area referred to in UN documents as “Judea and Samaria”, no such power or jurisdiction was granted to the PA over all of Judea and Samaria or in any part of Jerusalem.

7) While the ICC Prosecutor’s politically motivated machinations may have brought her to demarcate the borders of the “State of Palestine" based on the non-existent "1967 borders", the Palestinian leadership rejects this limitation of the geographical size of the "State of Palestine". To support this argument the brief referred to numerous such statements documented by PMW.
The Palestinians Have Revealed Their Plan for Peace: More War
Palestinian Arabs have expressed, in landslide numbers, that their preferred path forward is “armed struggle” against Israel. They overwhelmingly reject the Trump “Peace to Prosperity” plan, and have decided that their rejectionist stance of the past several decades is the course they should maintain.

This persistent Arab sensibility — that Israel is the archenemy and illegally occupies sacred Muslim territory — has persisted since the Arabs rejected Israel’s declaration of statehood more than 72 years ago. It underscores the futility of peace efforts supported by numerous American administrations, as well as any such overtures in the coming months and, probably, years.

The respected polling organization Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) surveyed the Arab populations in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip last month, shortly after America’s formal presentation of its latest peace proposal.

That proposal was heartily rejected by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and his summary dismissal of the plan was supported by 94% of Palestinian Arabs. Their rejection was accompanied by increased support for armed struggle (64%), breaking all security ties with Israel (77%), annulling all Oslo commitments (69%), and increased support for severing all relations with the United States (76%).

Alarmingly, support for a future “two-state solution” dived to under 40%, the lowest level since the Oslo Accords were inked a quarter-century ago.

These facts alone should cast grave doubts on the credibility of diehard American advocates of a two-state solution.

To cap this dismal formula for peace, the PCPSR described its findings as indicating that “an overwhelming majority of 82% believe the plan brings the conflict with Israel to where it originally was: ‘an existential conflict.’”
Taiwan and Israel: Don’t Recognize, but Collaborate
More than 8,300 km separate Taiwan and Israel, but there are nevertheless important connections between the two small countries. They do not officially recognize each other, but over the past two and a half decades, they have found ways to collaborate.

In the late 1940s, both Taiwan and the modern-day State of Israel managed to face down massive powers that categorically rejected their rights to their land. The Israelis’ opponents were an array of Arab armies and terror groups (and their international supporters) while the Taiwanese stood against the Communist Party of China. The two countries are both islands of sorts: Taiwan a literal island not far from mainland China, and Israel a metaphorical island surrounded by states that reject its very existence.

Because of their physical isolation, both countries needed a superpower to protect them, and the US was ready, willing, and able to play that role. Israel and Taiwan view the US as a great ally and benefit from its economic and military support, and both wish to be viewed by the US as important allies in turn. The two states have something else in common: a meager supply of natural resources but an abundance of human capital.

Both Israel and Taiwan struggle for international recognition, yet have not recognized one another. This is essentially because the Israelis want a positive relationship with Beijing and the Taiwanese want a positive relationship with the Arab world.

Israel was the first Middle Eastern country to recognize the Communist Party of China as the official and only representative of the Chinese people after the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang-led government of the Republic of China (Taiwan’s other name) and the Communist Party of China. (That war went on intermittently from 1927 through 1949.) Similarly, the Taiwanese, like the Chinese, were long afraid to recognize Israel or have any kind of open relationship with it for fear that doing so would endanger their relationship with the Arab world.
China Says It Will Expel NYT, WSJ And WaPo Journalists From The Country In Retaliation
China announced Tuesday that it will expel American journalists who work for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post from the country.

The country also demanded that the three publications, as well as Voice of America and Time magazine, hand over information about their operations to the Chinese government, according to the NYT.

“We unequivocally condemn any action by China to expel U.S. reporters,” Marty Baron, executive editor of the Washington Post, said in a statement to the Daily Caller. “The Chinese government’s decision is particularly regrettable because it comes in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis, when clear and reliable information about the international response to covid-19 is essential. Severely limiting the flow of that information, which China now seeks to do, only aggravates the situation.”

American journalists who had press credentials “due to expire before the end of 2020” were ordered by China to “notify the Department of Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within four calendar days starting from today and hand back their press cards within ten calendar days,” the NYT reported.
Health minister refuses to go to Knesset for health reasons
Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman wrote Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein a letter on Wednesday, informing him that he does not intend to come to the Knesset any time soon, because he is afraid of contracting the coronavirus.

Litzman, 71, wrote in the letter that it was dangerous for the elderly to leave home, due to their weaker immune systems. He said his doctors told him the Knesset would be an especially bad place to visit, because MKs have come in contact with people who have the virus.

Four MKs are in quarantine after meeting with Merhavim Regional Council head Shai Hajaj, who was infected by the coronavirus: Arye Deri (Shas), Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), Ram Ben Barak (Blue and White) and Alon Shuster (Blue and White).

If Deri is found to have the virus, all those who came in contact with him would have to be quarantined. Deri gave a live interview to the Channel 12 prime time newscast, so it he tests positive, anchorwoman Yonit Levy and top analysts Amit Segal and Keren Marciano would have to be quarantined.

Hanegbi, Ben Barak and Shuster all tested negative for the coronavirus after they came in contact with a different person who had the virus.
IDF Prepares Hotels For Coronavirus
Brig. Gen. (res.) Yoram Laredo of the IDF Home Front Command explains how the IDF is preparing the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv and the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem as quarantine and rehabilitation facilities. The hotels will provide treatment for civilians with mild cases of the coronavirus.


IDF says Hezbollah, Syrian army behind attempted sniper attack on border
The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday accused the Hezbollah terror group and the Syrian army of being behind an attempted sniping attack against Israeli soldiers in the Golan Heights earlier this month, which was thwarted by an Israeli strike on the suspects’ car.

The military said that in the months preceding the incident Israeli troops saw Hezbollah fighters and Syrian soldiers preparing for an attack, filming the border area with smartphones and professional cameras and measuring wind speed from different locations in the supposedly demilitarized buffer zone between the two countries — in what the IDF said appeared to be efforts to identify a target and improve snipers’ accuracy.

The military said that on March 2 fighters were seen preparing to carry out the attack from a car.

“When there was an operational opportunity, the car being used by the cell was attacked by an IDF helicopter,” the military said.




Israel turns parking lots into medical centers for COVID-19 patients


Coordinating with Abbas, Israel puts virus closure on PA-ruled West Bank areas
Israel closed off Palestinian-administered areas of the West Bank on Wednesday to limit the spread of the coronavirus, an official said.

“From today, a closure has taken place in the West Bank,” said Yotam Shefer, who heads the international department of COGAT, the Israeli military body responsible for civilian affairs in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

He told journalists the decision had been made in conjunction with the Palestinian Authority government, based in Ramallah.

The border crossing with the Gaza Strip has been closed in recent days and will remain so, Shefer added.

The 70,000 Palestinians in the West Bank with permits to work in Israel, who cross back and forth daily, now have three days to either enter permanently for the next one to two months or remain in the West Bank, the PA government announced Tuesday night.

Palestinians who work in Israeli settlements in the West Bank will still be allowed to cross over daily, Shefer said.


Jordan’s Monarch Announces State of Emergency to Combat Coronavirus
Jordan’s King Abdullah approved on Tuesday a law that gives the government sweeping powers to enforce a state of emergency to help it combat the spread of coronavirus, state media said.

The royal decree gives Prime Minister Omar Razzaz extraordinary powers under a defense law enacted in times of war and disasters to enforce curfews, closing businesses and placing restrictions on freedom of movement of people.

In a letter to Razzaz, the monarch said he approved the law to help combat the virus without infringing on citizens’ political and civil rights.

“The health of Jordanians is sacred and comes above anything else,” the monarch said.

Jordan has earlier announced a lockdown beginning on Wednesday, ordering all citizens to stay in their homes apart from emergencies and banning travel between provinces, to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Jordan has 34 confirmed cases and no deaths.

Troops were deployed at the entrances of cities on Tuesday to help impose the measures when they take effect the following day, the army said.

The law will give security forces in the kingdom, which has already shuttered shops and closed its borders to halt the spread of coronavirus, widespread powers to control movement.
Coronavirus hits terrorists hardest from ISIS to Iran – analysis
Amid all the chaos caused by the coronavirus tidal wave, it may also rid the world of many of its worst terrorists or at least freeze their activity.

There are no statistics for how it is impacting ISIS supporters and will be none as the group would never report negative data and has no connections to international groups like the WHO or the civilized world.

But ISIS’s stunning recent order to its followers to stay away from Europe means not only that it is afraid of future infection if its agents go there, but that its network of followers there is likely already being hit.

This would make lots of sense since ISIS members tend to be disconnected from the Western world and could have gone longer ignoring the dangers of infection than average people.

Furthermore, ISIS members would be wary of accepting medical assistance from the authorities in their host countries as their faces may already be on the wanted list.

Iran is the paradigm case of a regime sponsoring terrorism which is known to be getting hit harder than any other countries besides China and Italy.

The Islamic Republic is notoriously dishonest about numbers which can hurt its public relations.

So when on Tuesday its official count of dead reached close to 1,000 and over 14,000 persons infected, the real numbers are likely to be far higher.








Top US Jewish Group Urges Extension of UN Arms Embargo on Iran Beyond Looming October Expiration Date
A top US Jewish group called on Tuesday for the UN arms embargo on Iran to be extended beyond its impending expiration date.

“We strongly support the measures in Congress calling for the extension of the UN arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October,” Arthur Stark, chairman, William Daroff, CEO, and Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chairman, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, stated. “It is critically important for the security of US forces and interests in the region, and those of our allies including Israel, that Iran is not given the opportunity to amass additional weapons.”

“The countless incidents of aggression by Iran and its proxies over the past year alone demonstrate the need for continued restrictions on Iranian access to arms,” they continued. “Even with the embargo in effect, Iran is still providing weapons to its terrorist clients like Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad while also advancing its nuclear weapons program in defiance of the JCPOA. The stakes are already high enough.”

The CoP leaders concluded, “We hope to see Senate Resolution 509 and the letter from House Foreign Affairs Committee leadership to Secretary Pompeo, which both call for extending the UN arms embargo on Iran, each gain widespread bipartisan support in the coming days. We urge the UN Security Council to take action ahead of the embargo’s expiration this fall.”
Iranian to Be Charged in U.S. for Exporting Military Sensitive Items to Iran
An Iranian national was extradited to Texas after allegedly exporting “military sensitive items” to Iran between 2007 and 2011, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

Merdad Ansari, an Iranian citizen and a resident of the United Arab Emirates, arrived in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday evening, the DOJ said in a statement. Ansari, 38, faces federal charges in connection with an alleged scheme to give “military sensitive items” to Iran in violation of the Iranian trade embargo.

Ansari and his co-defendant, Mehrdad Foomanie, who remains a fugitive, were charged in June 2012 with conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR), conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The ITR prohibits the sale of any goods from the U.S. or by a U.S. citizen to Iran.

The parts the pair allegedly sold or attempted to sell were considered “dual-use” for military and civilian capability and used for systems like nuclear weapons, missile guidance and development, secure tactical radio communications, offensive electronic warfare, military electronic counter measures and radar warning and surveillance systems, the DOJ said.

“As alleged, the defendant helped Iran to develop its weapons programs by obtaining military parts in violation of the Iranian Trade Embargo,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement.
Iran braces for '3.5 million' dead in coronavirus outbreak
Coronavirus could kill "millions" of Iranians if they do not stop traveling and keep ignoring social-distancing guidelines, an Iranian state TV journalist who is also an MD warned Tuesday.

Dr. Afruz Eslami cited a study by Tehran's Sharif University of Technology that predicted three possible scenarios with the worst one estimating that 300,000 people would get the virus and 110,000 would die, according to the AP report.

If the "medical facilities are not sufficient, there will be 4 million cases, and 3.5 million people will die," she said.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious ruling prohibiting "unnecessary" travel.

The death toll increased again on Tuesday, with the Health Ministry spokesman announcing that 135 more people died, raising the total to 988, according to the report.










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