VFI News February 19, 2021

Israeli Study Finds 94 Percent Drop in Symptomatic COVID-19 Cases with Pfizer Vaccine

Israel's largest healthcare provider on Sunday reported a 94% drop in symptomatic COVID-19 infections among 600,000 people who received two doses of Pfizer's vaccine in the country's biggest study to date.

Health maintenance organization (HMO) Clalit, which covers more than half of all Israelis, said the same group was also 92% less likely to develop severe illness from the virus.

The comparison was against a group of the same size, with matching medical histories, who had not received the vaccine.

"It shows unequivocally that Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine is extremely effective in the real world a week after the second dose, just as it was found to be in the clinical study," said Ran Balicer, Clalit's chief innovation officer. (Nmax / VFI News)

“God, we ask that you continue to bless Israel with healing and protection from the coronavirus.”

The articles included in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Vision for Israel. We try to provide accurate reporting on news pertinent to Israel, the Middle-East, the diaspora, and Jewish issues around the world—and we hope that you find it both informative and useful for intercessory prayer.

Covid in Israel: Purim Only Celebrated with Immediate Family

A specific outline for the upcoming festival of Purim was approved by the coronavirus cabinet on Monday.

The holiday falls on Friday, February 26 – except in Jerusalem where it falls the following Sunday.

Israelis will be required to hold the traditional holiday meal with nuclear family members. The Health Ministry stated that it will organize a PR campaign to persuade people to host only family members who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus – those eligible for the green passport.

Moreover, starting from Saturday synagogues will be allowed to function at 50% of their capacity for green passport holders or alternatively with ten worshippers indoors and 20 outdoors. (JPost / VFI News)

As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. - Esther 9:22

Pandemic-Battered Israeli Economy Contracts 2.4% in 2020

The Israeli economy shrank by 2.4 percent in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics Tuesday showed.

The figures represent the first contraction of the economy over a year since a marginal drop in 2002, as increased unemployment and a likely rise in insolvencies after the latest national lockdown weighs on economic recovery.

But the data is nonetheless better than expected, with economic officials having predicted a contraction of at least 3.3%-4.6%. And it was far better than the 5.5% average contraction in OECD countries last year. (TOI / VFI News)

“God, we ask that you bring rejuvenation to the Israeli economy as soon as possible.”

Iran Threatens to End Some Nuclear Inspections Next Week

Iran on Monday reiterated its warning that it will halt certain nuclear inspections if other parties to the 2015 deal limiting the country’s atomic program “fail to meet their obligations” by February 21.

The Iranian foreign ministry said the move would see Iran end its adherence to the “additional protocol” of the nuclear accord, which prescribes intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities.

“All these measures will be reversible, provided the other parties adhere to their obligations,” ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to the official IRNA news agency. (TOI / VFI News)

Christmas Aid for Arab Christians in Bethlehem

Blinken Says for Iran, ‘The Path to Diplomacy is Open’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the US was open to diplomacy with Iran and voiced support for the 2015 deal Iran signed with world powers while asserting that it must not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Blinken said that for Iran, “the path to diplomacy is open.”

He reiterated the US stance that Iran must first return to compliance with the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and said that “Right now, Iran is still a ways away from being in compliance, so we’ll have to see what it does.”

The Biden administration has repeatedly said it will return to the deal if Iran first returns to its terms, but Iran has said the US must first lift sanctions before talks resume, putting the two sides at a stalemate for now. (TOI / VFI News)

They do not know the path of peace, and there is no justice in their tracks. They have made their paths crooked. Whoever walks in them will not experience shalom. - Isaiah 59:8

Iran Could Deploy 200 Missiles in Iraq to Attack Israel

With tensions rising with Iran, Israel is concerned that the Islamic Republic could deploy up to 200 long-range missiles in Iraq that could be used to attack the Jewish state. Iran is already believed to have hundreds of missiles that can reach Israel.

While the chances of a direct confrontation between Israel and Iran are deemed low, heightened tensions in the North amid the possibility of a confrontation in Syria or Lebanon could also draw Iran to retaliate.

The rationale for Iran to deploy missiles in Iraq and launch them from there against Israel would be to try and prevent a direct IDF retaliation against targets within Iranian territory. (JPost / VFI News)

“God, we ask that you protect us all from the threat of nuclear war.”

IAI Introduces New Electro-Optical High-Resolution Surveillance System

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) introduced on Wednesday a new electro-optical long-range surveillance system – the MegaPOP.

The new payload is designed for land applications, such as marine or land border control, surveillance of sensitive facilities, or any other operational mission that requires especially lengthy surveillance performance, as well as high-definition vision capabilities with a system that uses several sensors simultaneously, the company said in a statement.

MegaPOP simultaneously tapes a video on a thermal/HD channel with night vision, a color daylight HD channel, and an innovative HD SWIR technology channel. The continuous zoom capability provides the end-user with high-quality output even under highly challenging visual conditions, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) said. The system can be installed on various platforms – from poles for sea vessels to land vehicles and fences. (JPost / VFI News)

Israel Named a Top 10 Most Innovative Country (Again)

Israel was ranked seventh among the world’s 60 most innovative economies, according to the Bloomberg Innovation Index published last week.

The Jewish state went down one spot from its standing in 2020 and two places from 2019, where it came in fifth place.

South Korea was ranked as the world’s most innovative country and took the title from Germany, which fell to fourth place this year. The East Asian nation has taken the top spot on the index for seven of the nine years that it’s been published.

Following South Korea were Singapore and Switzerland, which each moved up one spot, and were ranked second and third, respectively. Sweden was ranked fifth, followed by Denmark and then Israel. (I365 / VFI News)

“I will also make you a light of nations, That My salvation may reach the ends of the earth.” - Isaiah 49:6