Israel Weekly News Roundup, July 1st 2022
5 Things you need to know
As of Midnight Thursday, Israel Has a New Prime Minister, Yair Lapid: According to the government coalition agreement, when the government dissolves itself, and until a new government is assembled, Yair Lapid takes over as PM for the interim. Naftali Bennett, who was PM until Lapid took over, will step down. Bennett announced that he will not run for office in the coming general elections. Ayelet Shaked, who was Bennett’s political partner in the Yamina party, will lead the party during the campaign.
The first thing Lapid did when he took office was to go to the Holocaust Memorial Institute, Yad Vashem, where he promised his father to secure Israel’s continued existence. Lapid’s father, Tommy Lapid, was a Holocaust survivor who was prominent in the media and politics.
Lapid will be the one who will meet President Biden on his first trip to Israel as President, on July 13-14th 2022.
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After a Long Political Battle, the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) Unanimously Agreed On a Date for General Elections: November 1st, 2022. The political power game between the coalition and the opposition continued unabated until the last minute, on what would be the election date, and what laws will be legislated before the Knesset is dissolved. The right wing opposition, especially the Haredi (Jewish Orthodox) parties wanted to agree on October 25th, while the Yeshiva students are still on vacation and so will be able to help bring voters to the ballot box, which will help boost turnout. The power game lasted until the last minute, and the law that was due on Monday, was eventually approved only on Thursday morning.
The political campaign is going to be ugly in terms of incitement, political spins and full of fake news. This would be the fifth round of general elections in the last three years.
A Short Video Depicting an Israeli Hostage Held by Hamas in Gaza Was Released By the Organization: The video shows one of the two Israeli civilians who have been kept hostage by Hamas in Gaza since 2015, Hisham Al-Sayed. According to his family, Al-Sayed, a beduin from the Negev, is mentally ill, and supposedly crossed the border by choice. The other Israeli who is in the custody of Hamas is Avera Mangistu, a Jew from Ethiopian descent, who is also considered mentally ill. Hamas also has the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, held since the 2014 military operation in Gaza, Protective Edge.
This is the first living sign coming from either of them, and Israeli sources believe that Hamas was trying to use the transition in power in the Israeli government to kick start a negotiation with Israel towards a deal in which Israel will release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the two living hostages and the two bodies.
Israel has not responded as yet, but there is a civil society activist who is willing to go to Gaza to negotiate, and Hamas has agreed to let him in.
Yehuda Meshi Zahav Dies a Year After Attempted Suicide: Meshi Zahav died at the Herzog hospital in Jerusalem at the age of 62, after a year in a coma. Meshi Zahav served as Chair of Zaka, Israel’s rescue and recovery organization and was about to receive the Israel Prize, when an investigative piece by the Haaretz news outlet unveiled allegations of sexual abuse of girls, boys, and women. The hospital issued a brief statement, saying that his condition deteriorated in the past weeks. His family asked that his funeral be private and not covered by the media.
It Is Jellyfish Season in Israel: swarms of jellyfish are making their way to Israel’s coastline from the south and are expected to make their appearance on the beaches within days. According to marine biologists, the jellyfish season will last for four to six weeks, depending on the amount of food they can find in the waters. Several years ago, an Israeli marine biologist developed a crowd sourcing app that helps track jellyfish and tar pollution.
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