‘Haredi community now seeks to reach herd immunity’

Berele Crombie, a public relations worker in the religious and haredi sector, addressed the conduct of the haredi sector in the face of coronavirus restrictions in general and the significant gap between the conduct of the community during the first wave and the current wave in an interview with Arutz Sheva.

In his opening remarks, Crombie emphasized that he himself “strictly adheres to the guidelines. I am only interpreting what is happening in the haredi sector.”

“There are two critical stages in the haredi sector, between the first and second waves. In the first wave there was a lot of criticism, people did not act carefully because of lack of knowledge, lack of understanding and contempt. This improved dramatically and we reached a situation where communities became even stricter than they were on kashrut laws,” he said.

Crombie sees the conduct of the Gur Hasidic sect as a model for what is happening in many other Hasidic sects and as a model for the haredi sector in general. “I have prayed many times with the Gerrer Hasidim. When you come for prayers, if there is a suspicion that you aren’t covering your nose with your mask then they will scold you. They stand at a distance and don’t talk to each other.” However, he said, “in the second wave, it’s a whole other matter.”

“The Hasidism that most adhered to the guidelines, the Gur Hasidism, who invested NIS 7 million in the layout of the capsules, built new mikvahs so that there would be a mikveh for each capsule, on Rosh Hashanah they built tents outside the beit midrash to pray outside and only by lottery could someone enter the beit midrash. Etc. After all this right after Rosh Hashanah there was a big outbreak, probably because of something that happened two weeks earlier. There were hundreds of patients and people said they were throwing up their hands in defeat.

“They look at Hasidism like Belz and the extremist Hasidism that gathered on Lag B’Omer in Mea Shearim and similar events despite the threat of hundreds of deaths – which did not happen, thank G-d. They look at all this and say that it is possible that in today’s situation in the density of life and living conditions, reality is stronger than any outline, regardless of whether we keep it or not. In the end, everyone will be infected.”

Crombie believes that in the haredi sector there is now a conscious decision, similar to that of Boris Johnson in the UK and that of US President Trump, to reach herd immunity. “There is a dramatic change in the conscious decision to protect the elderly and get to the point mass herd infection. That’s what they have done in many yeshivas after the capsules system collapsed in them and the yeshivas became Corona hotels. The guys were a bit sick with something like the flu and got through it and now the yeshiva has herd immunity.”

On the fear of re-infection, Crombie says that even in New York there is no such fear and that it is “claimed that they have moved past the coronavirus because the World Health Organization said that seventy percent have been infected. Therefore at the Trump campaign rallies they don’t maintain [sic] and don’t wear masks, it is forbidden to enter the White House with a mask. This stems from an approach for which it is clear how true it is, that whoever was infected has developed antibodies and there is no chance of further infection.”

According to Crombie, among the considerations facing the haredi sector is the issue of possible desecration of G-d’s name.

“Many people in the haredi sector say that even though we maintained social distancing, wore masks, weren’t with our families for the seder, we were still blamed and considered spreaders of the disease. So if we are blamed anyway and there is no chance of changing the narrative, then we might as well get through this to the best of our understanding.”

“The significant point is to understand what is happening through Gur Hasidism which is the model. It is a Hasidic group that was zealously cautious, and when it collapsed the whole haredi society that looked at Gur Hasidism said that if even they raised their hands in defeat there is probably nothing to do.”

Arutz Sheva asked what Crombie thought it would be appropriate for the Health Ministry to do in response to these developments.

“For the haredi community, it is very simple. It is an obedient community. When you convince the Admors, the public will follow them. It is no easy task to convince hundreds of Admorim, but we saw the Prime Minister’s conversation with the Rebbe of Viznitz. In the eyes of the Rebbe, the story of the desecration of G-d’s name is significant and if the leadership succeeds in talking to the Rebbe, they may be able to move the wheel, even if it is difficult to assume that this will happen.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

‘Black flags’ to demonstrate in 1,000 locations

In light of the approval of legislation that will reduce the demonstrations during the current lockdown, the “Black Flags” movement has announced “demonstrations of hope” that will be held in more than 1,000 locations throughout the country.

The demonstrations will take place tomorrow (Thursday) and on Saturday night, and a further slate of demonstrations is planned that will take place throughout the lockdown in a different format.

Under the new regulations it is permissible to hold a protest provided it is held up to a distance of one kilometer from the home of the demonstrator.

The Black Flags movement worked to establish a special system that would allow people to join the demonstrations, according to a map sent to tens of thousands of citizens.

The movement said, “These are black and difficult days for the State of Israel. No country in the world has restricted the right to demonstrate in legislation, for a very simple reason – it makes no health sense. There is only criminal logic, that of an accused criminal trying to escape the terror of the law.”

“The fact that Gantz chose to join Netanyahu puts him in line with Miki Zohar, Osnat Mark and Miri Regev. This coming weekend, the State of Israel will tremble at a demonstration of a magnitude not yet seen in Israel. Hundreds of thousands will go to every corner to protest the destruction of the economy and democracy by the criminal defendant,” the notice read.

Source: Arutz Sheva

World Health organization director-general to visit Israel

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Institutions in Geneva Meirav Elon Shahar met with World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Ghebreyesus congratulated Israel on joining the Covax Group, an initiative for the joint procurement of vaccines led by the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the Global Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI).

Ghebreyesus confirmed to the Ambassador his participation in the annual conference of the European region of the World Health Organization, which will be held in Israel next year.

During his visit to Israel, Ghebreyesus is also expected to visit his organization’s Israeli office, which was opened in Tel Aviv.

Ambassador Elon Shahar emphasized “the importance that Israel attaches to its contacts with the World Health Organization, especially during this period of the outbreak of the coronavirus”.

She suggested “exploring further collaborations with the organization in the field of molecular medicine.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

What did the Vizhnitzer Rebbe tell the Prime Minister yesterday?

After concluding this morning’s prayers, the Admor of Vizhnitz related some of the content of the discussion he held yesterday with the Prime Minister, as quoted by the Behadrey Haredim website.

“I told him that we have three essential things,” the Admor said. “These are: synagogues, mikvas [ritual baths for purity], and schools. I told him that if he would ensure that Shabbat was observed in the State, and the status quo was maintained in the public sphere, I could promise him that the coronavirus epidemic would disappear.”

The police disperse mass celebration of Vizhnitz Hassidim after Yom Kippur.

The Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Rabbi Yisrael Hager, held a celebratory tisch gathering attended by hundreds of hassidim in the main Vizhnitz synagogue in Bnei Brak following Yom Kippur on Monday night.

The celebration “was in violation of Health Ministry COVID-19 regulations”.

“Some hassidic and non-hassidic communities have not adhered strictly to Health Ministry COVID-19 regulations, including being lax regarding the wearing of masks and social distancing.”

Senior police officers arrived and escorted Hager out of the building. After they told him about the violation, he instructed his hassidim to go home.

The police fined the Vizhnitz community NIS 5,000 [$ 1,450].

Footage emerged on Tuesday of hundreds of people in Bnei Brak congregating at bus stops without wearing masks following the end of Yom Kippur services. Young men dancing in the streets without masks also were seen.

On Monday night, the police said they had issued dozens of fines in the city against those congregating in violation of COVID-19 health regulations.

On Tuesday morning, police disbanded a prayer service in a synagogue of the Jerusalem Faction, a hard-line splinter group within the Ashkenazi non-hassidic haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community, in Modi’in Illit. Dozens of worshipers were not wearing masks or observing social distancing, the police said.
Five worshipers were arrested after refusing to identify themselves and being issued a fine. The others dispersed.

A poster on the synagogue door said the community would not cancel prayer services, would ignore the police if they entered the building and would refuse to identify themselves. The community would help pay any fine issued against any member, it said.

A Jerusalem Faction spokesperson accused the police of using their group as a scapegoat, saying they treated the Vizhnitz Hassidim more respectfully and leniently and ignored violations by the Belz Hassidim in Jerusalem for months.

“If you want war, remember one thing: The [anti-Netanyahu] protests on Balfour [Street in Jerusalem] are child’s play,” the spokesman said. “If you push us into a corner, you will face protests by the Bnei Torah [Jerusalem Faction] community across the country.”

Source: JPost, Arutz Sheva, TOI

Note: [Admo”r] “Admor” is an acronym for “Adonainu, Morainu, VeRabbeinu,” a phrase meaning “Our Master, Our Teacher, and Our Rabbi.” This is an honorific title given to scholarly leaders of a Jewish community. In writing, this title is placed before the name.

Exactly one year ago:

The Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Rabbi Yisrael Hager, spoke in Yiddish and noted that the election falls on the 17th of Elul which is the 80th anniversary of Hitler’s entering Poland, sparking the Second World War. The Admor added that we should not take the words of secular politicians at face value and should realize that they truly intend to uproot Torah, adding that “People didn’t want to believe Hitler either.”

He added that “People didn’t want to believe it. Unfortunately for us, the destroyers of religion, the demolishers of religion, want to bring a holocaust .” The Admor was clearly referring to a spiritual holocaust which would be as disastrous as physical destruction.

Could the COVID Vaccine be Canceled Before the First Injection?

I covered this breaking story last week.

I analyzed a startling piece in the NY Times that torpedoed the major clinical trials now underway, headed up by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna:

“We may not find out whether the vaccines prevent moderate or severe cases of Covid-19.”

My readers, who know the devil is in the details, saw how absurd these trials are.

Now I want to go back and fill in a few new facts that round out the picture.

As a result of increased scrutiny and pressure, the vaccine companies couldn’t just say their experimental COVID vaccine produced antibodies, meaning there was a “proper immune response” to the vaccine. That wouldn’t be enough to win FDA approval.

No, they would have to create two huge groups of human volunteers, give one group the vaccine, and the other group a saltwater placebo shot.

Then what?

Then wait. Since these companies believe the coronavirus is everywhere, descending from the clouds and infecting millions of people, they would wait for some volunteers to “catch COVID-19.”

How many volunteers? 150. That’s the magic number.

At that point, the clinical trial would stop. Everything would stop.

The big reveal would take place. Of these 150 cases of COVID-19, how many occurred in volunteers who got the vaccine, and how many COVID-19 cases occurred in the volunteers who got the placebo saltwater shot?

Get it? In other words, this information would show how successful the vaccine was in protecting the volunteers from COVID-19.

What would the vaccine companies be hoping and praying for? A breakdown like this: only 50 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group, and 100 cases in the placebo group.

Why? Because this would prove the vaccine was 50% effective in preventing COVID-19. And that percentage is all the FDA requires to issue an authorization for the vaccine—an authorization to shoot up all Americans.

Absurd. Preposterous. 150 volunteers determine whether 350 million Americans will be targeted for a vaccine. But that’s not the bottom line in this story.

Let’s return to the beginning again. The vaccine companies, forced to enroll tens of thousands of live humans in their clinical trials, need to decide: who will these volunteers be?

Will they be the elderly, most of whom are already ill with prior conditions, their immune systems already very weak—who could—as even public health agencies warn—keel over from any vaccine injection? Of course not.

The volunteers will have to be healthy adults. Yes. But that presents a huge and fateful problem.

Remember, these volunteers, after they receive either the vaccine or the placebo, will be sent back to live their lives while everyone waits. Waits to see who “catches COVID-19.”

What sort of COVID-19 illness? Very mild? Quite serious?

The answer is obvious. It can’t be “quite serious.” That would mean pneumonia. The vaccine companies could wait around for 10 years and still not record 150 cases of real pneumonia among these HEALTHY VOLUNTEERS.

No, the vaccine companies would wait for 150 mild cases of COVID-19. Meaning, nothing more than a simple cough, or chills and fever, and a positive PCR test.

(In this article, I won’t describe the MANY problems with the worthless and deceptive PCR test.)

Can you see it yet? The vaccine companies are in a box. They’re trapped.

Their whole clinical trial is DESIGNED to prove the vaccine can protect against MILD CASES of COVID-19. That’s all.




Verdict: the three major ongoing clinical trials of a COVID vaccine are useless. Regardless of outcome, regardless of what kind of vaccine is being tested, the designed protocol for the clinical trials makes the trials irrelevant, useless, and pointless.

Will scientists and doctors and civilians wake up and flood the FDA with objections, and force the agency to reject these clinical trials and these vaccine companies?

Can we spread the truth about these clinical trials far and wide?

“Let’s wait and see what happens” isn’t good enough.

Not by a long shot.

Source: John Rappoport

The Mask and the Bump

Iwas on the bus the other night with my wife. There were only 3 of us not wearing masks on our public transport, which mandates mask wearing but with medical exemptions. Across the aisle was an attractive, healthy looking young woman, perhaps mid 20s wearing a mask.

She was pregnant, I’d guess in the 2nd trimester. According to the US NIOSH (National Institute for Safety and Health) there are now millions of pregnant women wearing masks — primarily because they’re mandated to do so. But there doesn’t appear to be any data for how long they’re worn and under what circumstances, i.e. indoors, outdoors, working, exercising or whatever.

Given what I’ve learned about masks I had a strong urge to warn her that there were serious risks to her and I assumed the unborn baby. I assumed because I really didn’t know. The problem is there are virtually no reliable studies which link mask wearing to postnatal outcomes. But as I’ve come to understand the lack of a specific study need not inhibit an accurate risk/benefit analysis. So let’s do that.

The wearing of masks to attempt to prevent the spread of a virus has never been widespread in the general population in the Western world. (An exception to that was during the 1918 flu pandemic, masks were mandated in some cities, USA, but not others.

Subsequent studies showed no difference in infection rates or deaths between the mask wearing cities and those that chose not to.) In Asia where mask wearing is more common they are worn for a multitude of reasons including, significantly, for protection against car exhaust and industrial air pollution. Most studies everywhere have concentrated on “fit for purpose” or effectiveness analyses.

Fewer studies have looked at the effects of masks on the wearer, fewer papers still have addressed the concern that masks might be harmful to the wearers.

Here’s how we can examine the risks of mask wearing on pregnant women (or others for that matter):

If we look at the science regarding the effects of wearing a mask on the people wearing them and then compare and connect those results to effects that have been shown to affect pregnancy outcomes then we should be able to draw reasonable conclusions. In a risk/benefit analysis it may not prove a potential harm but might suggest considerable caution be applied.

Never in our history has mask wearing been so ubiquitous, across so many countries and in general mostly healthy populations of all ages, past that of toddlers. Neither has mask wearing been mandated for such long periods. Servers in restaurants, school children, plant workers, transit workers, health employees don them for far longer than previously. Pre-Covid-19 they were mostly confined to operating rooms and infectious wards.

What reasons aside from mandates might a pregnant woman have for deciding to wear a mask during what is called the Covid 19 pandemic?

Foremost would be concern for her own health and the unborn baby–protection from becoming infected, sick and possible negative effects on the fetus.

Secondly she might be concerned for others, i.e. source control, that she might not pass on an infection. Those would be her hoped for benefits. She might also want to be seen to be a good person “helping to fight the virus.”

Before assessing her benefits we need some context both of Covid-19 and of mask wearing.

On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO),declared the disease Covid-19, as a result of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, to be a “pandemic.” 6 months in it has failed to live up to that billing. In fact the US CDC now calls it the “Covid-19 Outbreak.” And Swiss Policy Research which has published a great deal of scientific information, often at odds with the hysteria the virus has generated in the media, has studied the lethality of the virus and concluded it is generally low.

“[for] most people the new coronavirus is already neutralized by antibodies on the mucous membrane (IgA) or by cellular immunity (T-cells). In most of these cases, no symptoms or only mild symptoms develop… the new coronavirus is probably much more common than previously thought and the lethality per infection is up to five times lower than previously assumed. The real lethality could thus be well below 0.1% and hence in the range of strong seasonal influenza.”

Doctors, scientists, politicians, judges and hundreds of thousands of citizens have called it a fake or a hoax. Like these 640 German medical doctors and this group of 590 Belgian doctors whose website also lists other international groups of doctors speaking out. The majority here are not saying there is no infectious disease present, they are saying the threat posed is massively exaggerated. All of the dissenters present evidence that Covid-19 at worst is as dangerous as a strong flu season.

Regardless, even some government spokespersons are now admitting it is not and was not as lethal as first announced. Officials such as Chris Whitty, the UK’s Chief Medical Health Officer have downplayed the seriousness of Covid-19 as it affects the general population. He told a press conference on May 11th, when Covid-19 was already past its peak, that it was not a concern for most people.

“[T]he great majority of people will not die from this…Most people, a significant proportion of people, will not get this virus at all […] Of those who do, some of them will get the virus without even knowing it, they will have the virus with no symptoms at all, asymptomatic carriage […] Of those who get symptoms, the great majority, probably 80%, will have a mild or moderate disease…not bad enough for them to have to go to the doctor. An unfortunate minority will have to go as far as hospital, but the majority of those will just need oxygen and will then leave hospital.”

– Chris Whitty, quoted in Off-Guardian, May 15, 2020

Now consider the lethality of Covid-19 as it would apply to a pregnant woman.

The mean age of all births appears to be between 30 and 33. The ages of the birth mother will be with minor exceptions between 15 and 45 years.

According to Worldometer the percentage of deaths at the peak of the outbreak under the age of 45 was less than 5%. The hardest hit age group accounting for almost 50% of all mortality to date were 75+ years old. And most of the deaths, over 90%, had several comorbidities, a status not impossible but unlikely in pregnant women.

In fact Stanford Professor John Ioannidis, one of the most acclaimed scientists in medicine, says that for those under 45 the infection/fatality rate is essentially zero.

Understanding the above we can safely say a pregnant woman’s risk of death absent serious comorbidity, such as terminal cancer, is essentially zero.

But what about a non-fatal Covid-19 infection resulting in harm to the fetus?

The odds are against it. Most importantly because 80% of Covid infections are either asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms. And over 95% have only moderate symptoms. The biggest risk to the fetus would apparently be if she got a fever from Covid-19, as it’s been reported that fever can result in congenital birth defects in the child. However, even here that is not a fear that is borne out by science.

First only 30% of Covid-19 infections result in fever. Second and most important, fever in pregnancy has not been found to result in congenital birth defects according to a recent, 2017, study with a very large cohort of pregnant women.

And what about her risk of hospitalization should she be infected? In her age category it would be in the 1% to 3% range, not of the whole population, just of those hospitalized. This is very low as a risk but it may still be a concern for the very risk averse.

But as with everything Covid the elderly take the heaviest hit and men are more susceptible than women. So a conservative guess for pregnant women (who are after all a small subset of all women at any given time) would be in the range of considerably less than 1%.

And importantly, the benefits of wearing masks would only pertain if they do what is claimed they do by authorities mandating their wear–i.e. are effective at stopping the coronavirus.

Does the wearing of masks prevent or reduce the chances of a Covid-19 infection?

Two of the most often cited studies in favour of wearing masks in healthcare and the community are from the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet. Despite their stature, they’ve had major missteps during the pandemic. The Lancet was forced to withdraw a paper critical of hydroxychloroquine, HCL, as a Covid-19 treatment because it was based on fraudulent data.

Both their reports on face masks were based on meta-analysis of other studies all of which were observational studies as opposed to randomized control trials, RCTs which are far more reliable. RCTs are considered the gold standard in medical studies. Here is a story of how observational studies led to women being prescribed hormone treatments to protect their hearts. An RCT raised a red flag, finding that not only were there no benefits derived from the treatment but that it actually causes heart problems.

The conclusions of both Lancet papers 1 & 2 were that the benefits were slight and that the “certainty of evidence was low” Sometimes, it was suggested, the benefits were more psychological than physical.

“One advantage of universal use of face masks is that it prevents discrimination of individuals who wear masks when unwell because everybody is wearing a mask.”

And this quote from the Lancet’s most recent study:

Face coverings and masks might protect both healthcare workers and the general public against infection with COVID-19, and protective eye covering may also provide additional benefit–although the certainty of the evidence is low for both forms of protection.”

Note the use of language here, hardly reassuring if it’s protection you’re looking for: “might protect” “may also provide additional benefit.” But then they go on to say the “certainty of the evidence is low” for both forms of protection. In medical studies saying the certainty of evidence is low is tantamount to saying it’s untrustworthy.

If masks work to reduce even some of the risk of infection for a pregnant woman there could be an argument for wearing them to move even further into a safe zone of infection avoidance. Much of the decision hinges on the evidence for effectiveness of masks in this area, including our gold standard, the randomized control trials, RCTs. As it turns out there are abundant studies of mask efficacy including respirators like the N95, medical or surgical masks and cloth masks.

One of the most recent was this May 2020, Hong Kong study published by the US CDC (Italics mine).

In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks.

In this review, we did not find evidence to support a protective effect of personal protective measures or environmental measures in reducing influenza transmission. Although these measures have mechanistic support based on our knowledge of how influenza is transmitted from person to person, randomized trials of hand hygiene and face masks have not demonstrated protection against laboratory-confirmed influenza, with 1 exception (18). We identified only 2 RCTs on environmental cleaning and no RCTs on cough etiquette.

What of the argument about being a good person and wearing a mask to protect others, so-called source control? If a pregnant woman becomes infected with Covid-19, she can do as people have always done and stay home until she’s better. Otherwise, as a healthy person she will infect no one. Even if she’s “asymptomatic” there is no real risk of infecting others. Dr. Maria Van Kerhove, Technical Lead Covid-19 at the World Health Organization, WHO, clearly states that asymptomatic transmission is “rare.”

Her statement first went viral and then was overwhelmed by the pushback led by Dr. Anthony Fauci and others who appeared to be threatened by her statement. The evidence since then seems to validate what she said.

One of the most vocal critics of mask wearing is Dr. Denis Rancourt, a retired professor of physics at the University of Ottawa and currently a researcher with the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, OCLA. Significantly Rancourt also has considerable expertise in biology and published in that arena. He published a paper entitled Masks Don’t Work.

After surveying all of the RCT literature he found literally no evidence that masks of any type succeed in blocking viruses. And he uses both physics and biology to demolish the “droplet” argument. Rancourt as a physicist, has been criticized for “stepping out of his field” however he has done an immense amount of cross-disciplinary work which actually makes him highly qualified to weigh in on this debate.

Here is a link in which he details his extensive and recognized scientific background. Finally, most people would be surprised to learn that even in the operating room there are significant studies showing that masks are ineffective for preventing infection. Masks may be more medical lore than actual science.

My own view of the “controversy” around mask efficacy is that governments are now widely demanding compliance with mandatory mask wearing, even in the home, saying that it’s based on “the science.” Many scientists, who most often depend on government licensing, funding and cooperation will do a study that does not actually support mask wearing but then weakly conclude that “masks should work, even minimally, so yes, go ahead and wear them.” Not a very powerful argument but one that is made nonetheless.

But why not? Supposing it helps even a little and after all one is showing support for fighting the pandemic? It won’t hurt. But how sure are we of that last statement? I’ve seen healthcare workers on social media say they’ve worn masks for years and they’re fine, so what’s the problem? The problem might well be long term. For instance the health consequences of smoking were debated for literally decades because the harm wasn’t immediately apparent. There were even advertisements for cigarette brands endorsed by doctors and most doctors at the time smoked.

As it turns out there is considerable direct and some indirect evidence of the harm that mask wearing may, and probably does, do to anyone wearing them. As one would expect healthy young people are least at risk while others, with immune deficiencies already, are more likely in harm’s way. Pregnant women are a special case because what they do can affect their unborn child. Children, because their development is still ongoing are also in a higher risk category.

Masks pose a direct threat to the health of the mother and an indirect threat to the unborn child. The most serious threat to both is probably the oxygen depletion caused by having your mouth and nose covered. In addition you will breathe in more carbon dioxide as when you exhale some is trapped in the mask and you rebreath it. These effects have many variables such as general health, age, how long masks are worn and what if any activity is being undertaken.

The pregnant lady on the bus was at rest but supposing she was going to the gym later where they require masks to work out? Or perhaps she’s going to work where she’s physically active.

This is where calculating harm and finding evidence comes in. This article by prominent retired neurosurgeon Dr. Russel Blaylock, a highly regarded MD and author, lays out a whole minefield of risk from wearing face masks. Regarding oxygen he says this:

“While most agree that the N95 mask can cause significant hypoxia and hypercapnia, another study of surgical masks found significant reductions in blood oxygen as well. In this study, researchers examined the blood oxygen levels in 53 surgeons using an oximeter. They measured blood oxygenation before surgery as well as at the end of surgeries.4 The researchers found that the mask reduced the blood oxygen levels (pa02) significantly. The longer the duration of wearing the mask, the greater the fall in blood oxygen levels.”

If blood oxygen saturation is lowered by wearing a mask, then we ask what harm could that do to a pregnant woman? For most healthy young people the harm is probably mild such as a headache that goes away after full breathing is restored. But if the mother’s oxygen saturation is lowered then so is that of the fetus and here things get frankly frightening. A 2012 Arizona State University shows how oxygen deprivation at birth has been shown to result in long term adverse effects such as birth defects and a higher risk for other diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular problems.

They show how hypoxia, or a period of low oxygen during pregnancy, combined with a genetic risk factor of having only one functioning copy of a gene, dramatically increases the chances of a baby being born with congenital scoliosis, a malformation of the spine that affects around 1 in 1,000.’
‘We’ve long suspected that it is genes or our environment that cause birth defects, but up until now, the majority of these have been largely unknown,” says Dunwoodie. “This is the first time anyone in the world has shown that both ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’, in combination, are molecularly responsible for causing many birth defects.”

But in recent prenatal and postnatal studies oxygen deprivation even if mild and of short duration tends towards the same high risk health outcomes. The 2019 study at the University of Cork says:

“or lack of oxygen to the brain at birth affects almost 200 babies in Ireland each year and results in death or disability in over two million infants each year globally. Even a very mild lack of oxygen at birth can have serious long-term effects with significant costs for the affected children, and their families.”

Note they are talking here about oxygen deprivation during birth. However, the results strongly suggest that reduced oxygen at any point before or during birth would produce the same effects.

Some of the evidence is indirect but nonetheless pertinent. Example, studies have shown that babies born at high altitudes to mother’s for whom it is not their natural environment have a higher incidence of low birth weight, birth defects and higher risk of congenital disease. This is presumed to be as a result of less oxygen at higher levels. People native to high altitudes appear to have evolutionarily adjusted to the effects.

Thus clearly we have evidence that masks deplete oxygen and there are several studies linking even mild hypoxia to adverse postnatal outcomes. That is one very real risk for pregnant women wearing masks.

An additional risk of masks depleting oxygen and increasing carbon dioxide in the blood is that both of these effects compromise the immune system’s function. A pregnant woman’s immune system works to protect her and her unborn child up until the 14th week of pregnancy when the fetus develops its own. After week 14 the prenatal child’s immune system will still be affected by the mother’s.

Pregnant women make all of their choices from the onset of pregnancy for 2, themselves and their unborn child. For instance, most women give up or restrict drinking alcohol during pregnancy because of the well-studied effects of drinking on postnatal health outcomes.

The problems of oxygen concentration in the blood is not the only danger mask wearers face. Bacterial and viral infections from microbial buildup on the inner surfaces of masks and even brain infection from viruses travelling from the mask up the olfactory (nasal) nerves to the brain are also risks.

After a short period wearing a face mask the inside of the mask gets moist and warm, the perfect medium for growing microbes. Like a petri dish tied to your face. Viruses and bacteria that you’re breathing out and microbes that have landed on the outside of the mask or were transported there when you touched it, are now being breathed back into your nasal passages, throat and lungs. Now, with widespread mask usage there are additional safety concerns with people using non-medical, non-respirator type, cloth masks.

Cloth masks are widely urged on the public as workable alternatives to medical masks or respirators. According to Robert Kennedy Jr.’s Children’s Health Defense:

“Available evidence shows that (cloth masks)… may even increase the risk of infection due to moisture, liquid diffusion and retention of the virus. Penetration of particles through cloth is reported to be high.” “Altogether, common fabric cloth masks are not considered protective against respiratory viruses and their use should not be encouraged.”

Textile materials (that can be used for cloth masks) can contain harmful chemicals and dyes (i.e. formaldehyde). There is no research available regarding the safety of breathing through such materials but formaldehyde is a gas that can irritate a person’s eyes, nose, throat and lungs, or trigger an asthma attack, even at low concentrations. Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can cause cancer.

There have been numerous anecdotal reports of staph and streptococcus infections from mask wearing. Maskne (acne caused by mask wearing) is belittled by some masking advocates on social media, “You do get that acne is not a real problem don’t you?” is one quote I saw.

But as FDA medical officer Dr.Jane Leidtka says from her 15 years of treating acne,

Acne is not usually a serious health condition. But it can cause significant emotional distress, as well as permanent scarring of skin tissue,”

But as is reported here, the maskne reveals a more serious problem: verification of microbial buildup on the inside of the mask.

Upper East Side dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe. [says]

“If left untreated, the mask, ‘which is a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria…could lead to infections that then require a prescription medication to clear it up.”

(Note: while acne or maskne may not present a serious medical condition (although that’s arguable) it demonstrates something very important: and that is that wearing a mask can lead to infections. That is sobering information because those infections may not all be as relatively benign as acne.)

And as noted above one of those infections might be in the brain – resulting from wearing a mask. Would you consider that a real problem?

Dr. Blaylock referenced the olfactory nerve as a route into the brain in a recent article in Technology News & Trends. Citing a 1989 study in the journal Virology titled Spread of a neurotropic murine coronavirus into the [central nervous system] via the trigeminal and olfactory nerves” Dr. Blaylock wrote:

“In most instances it enters the brain by way of the olfactory nerves (smell nerves), which connect directly with the area of the brain dealing with recent memory and memory consolidation. By wearing a mask, the exhaled viruses will not be able to escape and will concentrate in the nasal passages, enter the olfactory nerves and travel into the brain.” [10]

Dr. Blaylock was ridiculed for that last suggestion but look at this Jun 4, 2020 quote from John Hopkins Medicine’s website regarding the reported number of brain infections in Covid-19 patients:

The first possible way is that the virus may have the capacity to enter the brain and cause a severe and sudden infection. …The loss of smell that occurs in some patients with COVID-19 could indicate that the virus entered through the olfactory bulb, which is located right above the nose and communicates information about smell to the brain.

And a 2015 study in the journal Brain said this:

The study listed viruses that can use the olfactory nerve as a “shortcut” into the brain. Viruses that enter the body through the nose include influenza A virus, herpesviruses [and many others].

And if the above seems unlikely to you consider that a number of studies have reported brain infections as a complication of Cv19. John Hopkins doesn’t suggest the infection could have come from a mask. But the etiology suggested by Blaylock is clearly plausible.

As serious as the potential physiological health effects are there is another dimension that is important to consider and that is the emotional well-being and mental health of the expectant mother.

Most prospective mothers probably aim for a holistic, healthy state of mind and body. A cheerful relaxed disposition helps bathe the baby with natural hormonal health promoting chemicals. Masks create the opposite. They are arguably the chief symbol of the pandemic with connotations of infection and dying. In short they are a symbol of fear. Wearing one says I fear infection more than I dislike the discomfort and inconvenience of wearing this appliance on my face. You may not even consciously be aware of this fear or general sense of anxiety.

In a 2007 study the Journal of Maternal and Neonatal Medicine concluded as follows:

“Enhanced levels of depression and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy contribute independently of other biomedical risk factors to adverse obstetric, fetal and neonatal outcome[s].”

Fear is a mechanism for lowering your body’s natural immunity. Fear and stress tell the body to spend its resources elsewhere than the immune system until the danger is gone. But as the masks mandates appear to be in place for an indefinite time, that might be a long while.

“…when people live in constant fear, whether from physical dangers in their environment or threats they perceive, they can become incapacitated.”

“The surgical mask communicates risk” imagine just how much more risk and thus fear is communication by mass, worldwide mandatory mask wearing.

Before leaving the subject of masks it is illuminating to consider an example of what the mainstream is telling pregnant women about their effect. Google “is mask wearing safe” and you’ll get hundreds of answers saying they are. BabyGaGa.com, a site directed at expectant parents, gives their advice on masks: How Safe are Masks During Pregnancy: Here’s What Experts Say. One would expect from the title that there would be a comprehensive list of citations and evidence from diverse experts.

But no, all of their advice is based on one study and this study compared 16 pregnant women with 16 not pregnant women, all healthy, young non-smokers. Then, it consisted of 1 hour of sitting, standing and mild exercise on a stationary bicycle while the participants were monitored. They concluded that there was no significant difference in the “health effects” in the 2 groups.

It doesn’t take a scientist to see what’s wrong here.

It was not randomized in any way, it was a very small sample, studied over a very short time frame with no control group. The masks used were only the N95 respirator and not the differently problematic surgical or cloth masks. Literally none of the risks enumerated above would show up in such a study. It would be like concluding that tobacco is safe based on 32 young women each smoking one cigarette over one hour.

Despite this they did report finding:

[that] both pregnant and non-pregnant women wearing the respirator mask had a mild—but significant—increase in the heart’s resting, or diastolic, blood pressure.

It is clear from the evidence that there is no real medical benefit for wearing the mask. There are serious risks that might not befall every pregnant woman wearing a mask. But would she want to live with the uncertainty that sometime in the future her child might suffer greatly from a choice she made?

If mask wearing is unhealthy for unborn children and the mother, it is, for most of the same reasons, unhealthy for all of us especially children. It is distressing to see jurisdictions all over the world mandating wearing masks in schools. Active development as guided by our DNA from birth through adolescence is mostly complete by age 19. But during this period humans continue the process of gene expression that began in the womb.

Environmental factors such as light and oxygen have been proven to have an impact on this process and that includes oxygen depletion.

In conclusion, in deciding to wear a mask or not, especially if you’re pregnant, I would say go with the weight of evidence.

First will the mask work to protect you from viral infection? The weight of evidence says it will not because there are no (gold standard) randomized control trials that conclude they do. The science that says they do more often, on closer examination, says, “they should.” And that is based on mechanistic arguments that suggest “you’re blocking droplets, so you should be preventing infection.” However that has not been demonstrated in studies. So you would have to rate the protection of masks as “low certainty.” (Which is how most of the science itself has framed it.)

Second, is there a risk to an expectant mother or an unborn child from wearing a mask. Here we have a high certainty that there is. Many studies have demonstrated risks in mask wearing. Studies that say they are safe by and large rate their certainty as low. Simply put there is a risk and that risk because it entails a long term developmental danger to the child of birth defects or congenital disease, is not worth taking.

Let’s finally ask a question that needs to be addressed because it is a likely reason many people wear the mask; fear of social isolation or condemnation for not wearing one. That is not an insignificant concern.

I was yelled at in a store for not wearing a mask, I was kicked out of a lineup for breakfast at a hotel because I was maskless. I have a medical exemption but are you going to stand in front of a group of people hating on you and explain it? Not likely.

It’s hard but for a pregnant woman – it’s perhaps just the first time in her life she’ll have to advocate for herself and her child, and take a stand. That is truly worth it. Take off the mask. Take a deep breath and share it with your unborn child.

Source: Patrick Corbett – OFF GUARDIAN

A Body Blow to Democracy

The Knesset debated Tuesday an amendment to the law defining the government’s authorities in handling the coronavirus pandemic, a change that would render impotent the two main factors determining the force of a protest in a democracy: the number of people taking part and the location.

This is a measure that is unprecedented in the history of Israel, made even more egregious in the face of the restrictions that were imposed earlier on Israelis as part of the battle against the coronavirus. Until now, demonstrations were excluded from the restriction confining Israelis to within 1 kilometer from their homes, and the only restrictions placed on participants was to wear a face mask and to observe social-distancing guidelines.

It’s important to be precise: In practice, this legislation does not limit demonstrations, it bans them. The proposed restrictions are so draconian that they amount to a prohibition.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting, in the most cynical fashion, to exploit the coronavirus and the restrictions needed to fight its spread in order to undermine fundamental democratic rights and to suppress the dissent against him and his incorrigible government.

One mustn’t fall into the government’s rhetorical traps.

No matter how many times Netanyahu and his lackies repeat the lie that the Balfour Street demonstrations are a significant source of the rise in infections, it will never become true. This amendment aims to make protesting illegal and to incriminate those who dare to demonstrate against Netanyahu. It isn’t aiming to stop the spread of the virus but the spread of dissent.

Proof of this is the shameful fact that the ruling coalition, including Kahol Lavan, opposed a suggestion made by MK Yoel Segalovitz (Yesh Atid) to allow protest convoys of cars beyond the 1-kilometer limit. What reason could there be to block this? This is not a gathering of people and doesn’t raise concerns of mass contagion. The motivation is clear: to kill off opposition.

Netanyahu won’t stop at any antidemocratic measures to guarantee his political survival and evade trial.

The fact that an entire country is being held hostage to one man who has no restraints horrifies us each time anew.

How much more proof will the members of Kahol Lavan need to understand that the stretcher whose load they began to shoulder is not that of the coronavirus, but rather of Netanyahu’s indictments?

What more do they need in order to understand that by sitting in the coalition they are allowing a criminal defendant to cause harm to millions of citizens?

This amendment is a body blow to whatever remains of the public’s trust in the government.

Original: HAARETZ

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

Knesset passes law clamping down on protests after all-night session

The Knesset passed a controversial measure to curtail public protests due to coronavirus regulations early Wednesday morning, following an all-night legislative session in which the opposition slammed the government for harming democracy.

The measure will amend existing legislation to give the government the power to ban traveling over one kilometer (0.6 miles) from home to attend a protest, and limit outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 20 people, effectively stifling large weekly demonstrations outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence.

The bill passed on second and third readings by a vote of 46-38 just after 4:30 a.m., following days of delays. On Tuesday, Netanyahu’s Likud party dropped reservations it had filed against the legislation, allowing it to move forward.

The ruling party had previously demanded that the ban on mass protests — most notably regular anti-government protests held in recent months throughout the country — remain in effect even after the current nationwide lockdown is lifted.

The understandings were reached in negotiations between Likud and the Blue and White party, after previous disagreements between them prevented the law from being advanced by the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

Under the final version of the law, under a government-declared “special coronavirus emergency,” the cabinet can curtail protests, prayers and religious ceremonies for a week, with the possibility of extending it another two weeks should the emergency remain in place.

The measure also removes a clause that had exempted protests and prayers from rules limiting gatherings. Under the new version, the government can keep outdoor gatherings to 20 people each, and indoor gatherings to 10.

Officials have said that under the rules, protests outside the Prime Minister’s Residence would be kept to 2,000 total, with the Paris Square protest zone able to accommodate 100 capsules of 20 people. Only those who live within a kilometer would be able to attend.

The number is far below the 10,000 to 20,000 people who have shown up weekly outside the Prime Minister’s Residence to demonstrate against Netanyahu, who is standing trial in three graft cases.

Backers say “the protests pose a major health danger and cracking down on them was necessary given Israel’s skyrocketing infection rate”.

But the measure has faced vociferous opposition from critics who say it undermines Israel’s democratic character and serve Netanyahu’s political interests, using the virus as a cover.

“I came to see if I can still speak in the plenum, because that’s the next step,” opposition leader Yair Lapid said in the Knesset Tuesday night. “They’ll say that because of the coronavirus I can’t stand here and speak in the name of the opposition.”

Yisrael Beytenu MK Eli Avidar called the law an “attack on the citizens of Israel.”

“When the law passes, nobody can call us the only democracy in the Middle East. We’ve become a dictatorship.”

An earlier version of the bill had met opposition from Blue and White, Likud’s senior partner in the government.

As the committee approved the bill for second and third readings in the Knesset plenum earlier Tuesday Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn of Blue and White said that Likud had “failed” in its efforts to impose limits on protests after the lockdown ends.

“Likud’s dangerous attempt to ban the right to protest throughout the crisis has failed,” he told the committee. “Restrictions on demonstrations will apply only during a full closure. Once the restrictions on the economy are eased, restrictions on demonstrations and prayers will be lifted immediately.”

Lawmakers last week failed to pass the law ahead of Yom Kippur, amid mutual recriminations over the delay.

Israel has been under a full lockdown since last week but earlier legislation hamstringed government attempts to limit travel for protests and prayer. The country has one of the highest per-capita daily case loads in the world, and officials have warned hospitals may soon be overwhelmed.

As of Tuesday evening, there were over 67,000 “active cases” nationwide. Health Ministry data showed 797 patients in serious condition. The death toll since the start of the pandemic stood at 1,528, with over 500 deaths in the last month alone.

During a Tuesday committee meeting ahead of the vote, anti-Netanyahu protesters gathered in vehicles outside the Knesset and clashed with police.

One protester was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer, while the demonstrators said cops used excessive force and removed one of the signs they put up.

The Black Flags movement, one of several groups behind the protest, said in a statement that “the Netanyahu police continues with its relentless violence against anyone who doesn’t support the Netanyahu regime. Blue and White needs to watch these images and understand the enormity of this moment. Netanyahu is trying to violently crush democracy. This is the time to stop him.”

Demonstrations against the prime minister over his alleged corruption and his attacks on the justice system have become a regular occurrence in recent months, with rallies held several times a week, and major events every Saturday night.

But the protests have become a contentious issue as virus “cases” have grown, with the premier and others disparaging the mass gatherings “amid fears of infection”.

Dozens of demonstrators staged protests outside the residences of key Israeli ministers on Monday evening ahead of the attempt to advance the legislation banning large demonstrations.

The protests outside the homes of Gantz, Edelstein, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn were organized by the Black Flags movement.

Header: Israelis protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, outside PM Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem on September 26, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Source: TOI

Virus cases said found on 17 flights as pilgrims return from Ukraine, Belarus

Confirmed coronavirus carries have been identified on 17 different flights to Tel Aviv from Ukraine and Belarus, senior Health Ministry officials told Channel 12 Tuesday.

An annual pilgrimage over the Rosh Hashanah holiday in Uman, Ukraine, which usually draws tens of thousands of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims, was curtailed this year due to the pandemic. Despite Health Ministry warnings, however, thousands of Israelis flocked to Ukraine to the pilgrimage site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, before Kyiv closed its borders in September to avoid an outbreak.

Thousands of others then traveled to neighboring Belarus in an attempt to cross the border to Ukraine, but were blocked by local authorities.

Many of the pilgrims have since returned to Israel — some of them with COVID-19.

Some returning pilgrims boarded planes to Tel Aviv while displaying symptoms of the disease, health officials told the network.

Others refused to cooperate with contact tracing or get tested for the coronavirus, the officials added.

“It’s one failure after the next,” an unnamed official said. “They aren’t willing to get tested, are unwilling to cooperate and aren’t declaring that they’ve entered quarantine. It will simply hurt us all.”

Leading up to the Rosh Hashanah holiday on September 18, the pilgrimage was a major bone of contention between ultra-Orthodox leaders and health officials, who feared the virus would spread among densely packed worshipers and travelers.

Header: Belarusian soldiers guard the border to Ukraine against hundreds of Jewish pilgrims on Sept. 15, 2020. (Courtey of Shahar Eliyahu via JTA)

Source: TOI

AG: Netanyahu may eventually need to be suspended as PM for conflict of interest

Attorney General Avichai Mandeblit said he has not ruled out the possibility that Prime Minister Netanyahu may have to be suspended as premier if he seeks to use his prime ministerial authority to try to influence the criminal proceedings he is currently facing in court.

Speaking to the ultra-Orthodox Mishpacha magazine in comments aired Tuesday, Mandelblit, who has previously stated that Netanyahu does not have to step down, said the prime minister could, in theory, have to be suspended due to a conflict of interest.

“When you use your executive power as prime minister to influence your criminal [cases], that creates a serious problem,” Mandelblit was heard saying in recordings of the interview released by Channel 12 news.

“How do you handle that problem? If we can’t, it’s possible we will really come to recusing [Netanyahu],” Mandelblit said, but would not give an estimate as to when or whether such a development might happen.

The full interview is set to be published Wednesday.

He added: “It’s not math. I’m not rushing to anything, and I’m trying to be very considered and very calm.”

In an apparent reference to the attacks against him by the prime minister and his allies, Mandelblit said: “I always count to a thousand, and not to ten. I can’t allow — I won’t behave like those on social media.”

He stressed that Netanyahu was not “doing me a favor” by agreeing to sign a binding conflict-of-interest deal as part of the arrangements for him to remain in office while on trial.

“I don’t accept that he says ‘I’ll volunteer to place limitations upon myself.’ No. You must limit yourself… I’m not innocent or naive, I’m sure it won’t be 100 percent, but we do need this commitment that he is not dealing, for instance, with appointments to law enforcement, not dealing with amending legislation that touches on his personal issues, while abusing his power. That mustn’t be allowed,” Mandelblit said.

The attorney general was also heard describing his surprise at learning of one of Netanyahu’s cases, which involves an alleged attempt to reach a quid pro quo agreement with a top newspaper publisher for positive media coverage.

“I nearly fell off my chair when I saw that, it is not something that didn’t surprise me,” he said of so-called Case 2000, one of the three criminal cases against Netanyahu, in which he is accused of attempting to reach an agreement on positive coverage with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes in return for pushing legislation to hobble rival newspaper Israel Hayom.

He added that he is far from happy to be in his position of indicting a sitting premier. “I get up every morning and my heart aches” over it, Mandelblit said.

In the recordings, Mandelblit is heard hinting he will not agree to a plea bargain in Netanyahu’s trial, saying that for the sake of the public the case needs to be dealt with quickly.

Regarding Netanyahu’s claims that the proceedings against him are a political witch hunt, Mandelblit stressed that the indictments were only against Netanyahu and not any political bodies or causes.

The issue is “the personal actions of Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, he is personally charged with criminal activity,” Mandeblit said.

A statement from Netanyahu’s defense team accused Mandelblit of attempting to obstruct justice.

“The idea that an office holder, as senior as he is, who is himself in a conflict of interest, would decide on the suspension of a sitting prime minister, is anti-Democratic, an attempt to subvert the will of the voters and totally against the Basic Law in the government,” the statement read, according to the Ynet news site.

Other Netanyahu allies also responded to the tapes, attacking Mandelbit.

Coalition whip Miki Zohar tweeted that Mandelblit’s recordings were deliberately made “to convey a message to the prime minister and to whitewash his [Mandelblit’s] scandalous decisions to file unfounded indictments that have not been filed in any democracy.”

Transportation Minister Miri Regev tweeted that Mandleblit’s remarks were a “recusal of democracy.”

“Whoever wants to recuse Netanyahu is seeking to recuse millions of right-wing voters, who thrice voted for Netanyahu as the prime minister and will continue to choose him as their representative,” she wrote.

Earlier this month, Mandelblit was reported to be holding talks with senior officials about the possibility of requiring Netanyahu to step down over his attacks on the justice system as his trial progresses. Mandelblit’s office denied this was the case, and restated his previous position that the prime minister need not suspend himself.

According to a Haaretz report at the time, Mandelblit believes that Netanyahu’s use of government resources to push his case to the public — including calling press conferences ostensibly about the coronavirus emergency which are then used to question the reliability of law enforcement — could constitute a conflict of interest.

Netanyahu has said he is the victim of a wide-ranging conspiracy seeking his ouster — involving the left-wing opposition, media, police and state prosecutors — and called the allegations baseless.

Netanyahu’s trial on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust opened in May in the Jerusalem District Court. In addition to Case 2000, the prime minister is accused of accepting expensive gifts from wealthy friends in what is known as Case 1000; and in Case 3000, Netanyahu is accused of pushing regulatory favors for the benefit of the Walla news website owner, also in exchange for positive media coverage.

The court will begin to hear testimony from witnesses in the trial in January.

Header: Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit speaks during an event at Bar Ilan University, March 4, 2020. (FLASH90)

Source: TOI

COVID-19: Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market now a ‘ghost town’

Amid the coronavirus lockdown, Jerusalem’s iconic Mahane Yehuda open-air market has become a ‘ghost town’.

Citing a number of government shortcomings and an ill-prepared exit plan out of the country’s first lockdown in July, the report stated that “there is a broad increase in contagion in all sectors of the population, in all parts of the country.”

“Given the rise in infections in those over the age of 60, we expect that the number of serious cases will continue to rise significantly in the near future,” the report added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said the nationwide lockdown to stem the coronavirus pandemic would not be lifted after the Jewish holidays end in mid-October, as originally planned, warning it could take much longer to sufficiently drive down the coronavirus rates.

The prime minister’s comments came as “Israel’s health situation grew increasingly dire, with thousands of new coronavirus cases reported each day, overwhelming hospitals, and COVID-19 deaths steadily climbing”.

Source: i24

Turkey’s F-16 fighter downs Armenia’s Su-25 from Azerbaijani territory — Yerevan

Turkey’s F-16 fighter shot down Armenia’s Sukhoi Su-25 from Azerbaijni territory, the Armenian Defense Ministry reported. The Turkish plane, while staying inside Azerbaijani airspace, was providing support for Azerbaijan’s forces on the ground delivering strikes against the Armenian city of Vardenis.

“At about 10:30 on Tuesday Turkish F-16 fighters took from the airbase in Gyandzha to provide support for Azderbaijani forces’ strikes against the city of Vardenis and the villages of Mets Masrik and Sotk. A Turkish F-16 shot down a Sukhoi-25 of the Armenian Air Force, which was on a combat mission. The Turkish fighter was 60 kilometers inside Azerbaijan’s air space at an altitude of 8,200 meters,” the Armenian Defense Ministry said in a news release.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin denies a Turkish fighter destroyed an Armenian fighter-bomber. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry dismissed this as a lie, too.

Earlier, the Armenian Defense Ministry said Turkey had unleashed direct aggression against Yerevan. On Tuesday morning, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said that Azerbaijan’s military was shelling the Armenian city of Vardenis and nearby villages. A civilian was killed.

Tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh surged on September 27. Combat clashes are underway in the disputed territory. Azerbaijan and Armenia have introduced martial law and declared mobilization. Both parties to the conflict report casualties, including civilian ones. Baku claims it has gained control of several villages and strategic heights in Nagorno-Karabakh. Yerevan says there have been bombardments of Armenia’s territory.

Baku and Yerevan have disputed sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh since February 1988, when the region declared secession from the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic. During the armed conflict of 1992-1994 Azerbaijan lost control of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven neighboring districts.

Source: TASS

Video of soldiers enforcing protest near Knesset causes political uproar

A video that circulated on social media platforms on Tuesday showed soldiers from the IDF Paratroopers Brigade taking part in enforcing a protest in front of the Knesset and caused an uproar in the political system.

“Deploying IDF soldiers to the Knesset, in front of citizens who wish to protest in a democratic manner and to fight against the erosion of the freedom of speech, is a dangerous act! I call for an urgent meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to determine who’s responsible for this,” MK Moshe Ya’alon (Yesh Atid-Telem) posted on Twitter.

In a video distributed on the Internet, one woman is seen saying to the soldier, “Why are you wearing a police vest? You’re from the army, aren’t you ashamed? With a red beret, yet; aren’t you ashamed?

“The army’s ours, not the police’s. Shame. You should refuse orders. Just be ashamed of yourself, just be ashamed. You won’t argue with me, I’ll argue with you, I’ll embarrass you, you’re a soldier in the IDF,” she added.

Former MK Miki Rosenthal also addressed the issue on Twitter.

“I see IDF paratroopers on Jerusalem’s streets and I’m horrified. Our soldiers shouldn’t be oppressing anti-government protests. It is unfitting for the military to take sides in this important civil dispute,” Rosenthal wrote.

Gonen Ben-Itzhak, one of the most dominant figures leading the protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that “there were some images that we had hoped not to see. Soldiers stopping vehicles in Jerusalem, near the Knesset, is one of them.”

Opposing those voices, MK Dudi Amsalem (Likud) wrote: “The privileged masters of the land, heading to Balfour with their fancy jeeps from north Tel Aviv and the Kibbutzim, are degrading and humiliating our soldiers and the Israel Police. Watch the video and see how low the leftist anarchists have gone. It’s a disgrace!”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit issued a statement in response, condemning any form of disrespect or blunt behavior shown to soldiers who are assisting the Israel Police.

“We emphasize that the soldiers are operating in accordance to government decisions and as part of the nationwide effort of combating the coronavirus pandemic,” the statement read.

Defense minister Benny Gantz addressed the incident later on Tuesday, admitting that it was a mistake that shouldn’t have happened.

“The government determines the policy. Leave the police and the IDF out of the political discussion. Police forces deployed day and night across the country are doing important work with IDF soldiers at their side,” Gantz wrote on Twitter.

“I strongly condemn the attempts by a few to attack them while they do their jobs. However, deploying IDF troops near protests was a mistake that has been dealt with and will not repeat itself,” he added.

Source: JPost

Knesset committee approves protest ban as demonstrators, police clash outside

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Tuesday approved legislation suspending public protests as part of efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus while demonstrators clashed with police outside the parliament building.

The bill approved by the committee allows the government to declare a special emergency and restrict citizens from leaving their homes beyond one kilometer, even for demonstrations, for the duration of one week with the option of extending it for up to 21 days.

The legislation was then heading to the Knesset for its second and third votes by lawmakers, which were expected later Tuesday. Any restrictions on public protests must be voted on by parliament as the right to demonstrate is enshrined in Israeli law.

Outside the Knesset on Tuesday, demonstrators waved Israeli flags, banged on drums and chanted in favor of free speech ahead of the vote.

“They are denying us the right to protest because of political reasons not for health reasons and it’s mind-blowing, the frustration is beyond words, is beyond words. And a great worry,” said one of the demonstrators, Efrat Ben Barak, 40.

Police said three protesters who tried to block city workers from taking down banners that were hung illegally were arrested.

The Knesset committee met after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party dropped its demand to legislate for a six-month ban on all protests, which was met with furious condemnation by opposition lawmakers.

The committee failed to reach agreement before the Yom Kippur holiday that ended on Monday night, after Likud lawmakers attempted to introduce amendments that would allow the government to extend the ban for a period of six months – well beyond the expected length of the current nationwide lockdown – or alternatively use emergency regulations to ban demonstrations.

Coalition MKs from the Blue & White party refused to approve the proposed amendments.
A convoy of protesters also reached Jerusalem intending to encircle the Knesset. Police officers fined some of the drivers for blocking traffic, handing out penalties of NIS 500.

The Black Flag movement, which has been a key driver behind the protests calling for Netanyahu’s ouster over his mishandling of the coronavirus crisis and his indictment on charges of corruption, said “Netanyahu’s police” continued to act violently against anyone who does not support the prime minister.

“The prime minister is trying to violently destroy democracy and it is time to stop him,” the group said.

Source: Ynet – Roy Rubinstein and Nina Fuchs

Netanyahu: Closure will take at least a month, maybe much longer

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today addressed the question of how long the tight closure on the country will last, and estimated that it would take “at least a month”.

“The closure will last a month and maybe much longer,” the Prime Minister said in a Facebook Live broadcast, adding: “Targets and indicators have been set and they will dictate how long it will last.

“The number of patients is climbing fast. There are more than 800 serious patients. Unfortunately, the number of dead is also rising. Therefore, I ask to comply with the rules and the police,” he said.

Netanyahu called on the public to wear face masks: “The public doesn’t understand the power of masks. Wearing them on the face saves lives and must be done. Inside, only when you’re with the nuclear family, can you afford to be without a mask.”

Netanyahu’s remarks join those by Health Minister Yuli Edelstein who vowed that the three-week nationwide lockdown would be extended, despite pressure for it to end on schedule.

Edelstein spoke to Kan Bet, discussing the ongoing lockdown imposed on September 18th and tentatively scheduled to end on October 9th.

During the interview, Edelstein said Israel “would not repeat the mistakes” made at the end of the first lockdown, insisting it cannot be ended after the end of the three-week period approved by the government.

‘Absolutely no chance lockdown will end after Sukkot.’

The Health Minister did say the government may ease some restrictions at one point, but such changes would be announced at a later date.

Edelstein noted that coronavirus commissar Prof. Ronni Gamzu is slated to leave the position at the end of October, and rejected criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis.

Asked whether Israeli courts will be closed while hearings are set to take place in Netanyahu’s trials, Edelstein said the decision must be made by the judicial system, not the Health Ministry.

Header: Israeli protesters gather during a demonstration amid a second lockdown in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, on September 26, 2020, to protest the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. – Thousands of Israelis gathered in Jerusalem to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a day after the country tightened its lockdown aimed at slowing coronavirus spread. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

Source: Mordechai Sones – Arutz Sheva