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Hostile Cyberattack on Israeli Internet sites: "The Countdown has Begun"

By DEBKAfile, World Israel News, the Jerusalem Post & Israel Hayom Israel's national cyber authority is warning users to avoid links to the websites disrupted on Thursday, May 21, by hostile hackers. Their home pages were replaced with images of Tel Aviv under bombardment and two messages: "The countdown has begun for the end of Israel" and "Be ready for a big surprise." The attack was timed for Al Qods day, on which Iran marks the anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. Iran will support any nation or group that fights Israel, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, ahead of the annual observance of Quds Day to express support for Palestinians. "We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this," Khamenei said in a post on his official English-language Twitter account. Hundreds of Israeli websites were the target of Thursday's cyberattack.The bottom of the page credited a group called "Hackers Of_Savior" for the attack. Visitors to the sites were asked to allow access to their cameras. "This is a combined attack that tries not just to harm Israeli sites and to disturb the economy from operating, but also tries to gain personal information from users that enter these sites through control of the users' cameras, which would allow the recording of personal information and pictures of thousands of Israelis," according to Avitar Gat, digital systems operator at the Zeliger Shomron PR agency. Factories in Israel reported a second cyberattack on their websites on Thursday evening, according to KAN. The attackers demanded a ransom of tens of thousands of dollars in order for the factories to get their information released to them and not published to others. The attackers are threatening to halt production lines. It was unclear if the second attack was carried out by the same group. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Iran that Israel is prepared to destroy any regime which threatens the Jewish state. Responding to a recent propaganda poster published on the website Khamenei, Netanyahu tweeted, "Khamenei's threats to carry out `The Final Solution' against Israel bring to mind the Nazi `Final Solution' plan to annihilate the Jewish People. He should know that any regime that threatens the destruction of the State of Israel faces a similar danger," he said. The Iranian poster read, "Palestine will be free. The final solution: Resistance until referendum," and depicted crowds celebrating around Jerusalem, raising Palestinian flags and the flags of various terror groups while burning an Israeli flag. After Netanyahu's warning, Khamenei tweeted, "Eliminating the Zionist regime doesn't mean eliminating Jews. We aren't against Jews. It means abolishing the imposed regime & Muslim, Christian & Jewish Palestinians choose their own govt & expel thugs like Netanyahu. This is `Eliminating Israel' & it will happen." Khamenei made it clear that until a referendum is held to eliminate the "Zionist regime," Iran will continue to support terror groups. "We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this," he said. Iran's "final solution" to eliminate Israel was submitted to the United Nations in November 2019 as "The plan for holding a national referendum in the territory of Palestine" and is published in full on Khamenei's website. The plan calls for the election of a new government in Israel by an ensured Arab majority which would then decide what to do with the "non-indigenous residents," presumably the Jews. The plan has four stages: First, "enforcing the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their historical homeland." Second, "holding a national referendum among the people of Palestine, including the followers of all religions, who inhabited in Palestine before the issuance of the Balfour Declaration [1917], for the self-determination and determination of the political system." Third, "establishing the political system determined by the majority of the people of Palestine." And the final step of the solution, "deciding on the status of the non-indigenous residents of Palestine by the political system elected by the majority." Among the targeted sites: uPress, a Wordpress website hosting service; clothing brand Bang and Olufsen Israel; cultural center Bet Gabriel; Yad L'Achim, an Orthodox Jewish religious organization; Hashavshevet, a company that provides accounting and inventory software; several religious Jewish high schools and post-high school programs; a sub-page of United Hatzalah's Hebrew website; and photographer Israel Bardugo. The Petah Tikva Municipality announced on Thursday that the Cramim Directorate for Urban Renewal had been affected by the cyberattack, as the site is built on private infrastructure, unlike the rest of the municipality's sites. Bardugo tweeted a screenshot of the site, writing that "The Iranians did something significant last night and broke into my website. It is under control – don't stress if you bought something from us recently." A statement on one of the group's YouTube videos – also in broken English – stated: "We gather here to take revenge of Zionists crimes against Palestinians who have dead or have lost their lifes, families and grounds [sic]."

Is Israel Heading for a Second Coronavirus Wave?

By the Jerusalem Post
Tightfisted testing policies and logistical delays may lead to a second wave of coronavirus infection in Israel sooner than most people expect, senior health officials told The Jerusalem Post. Israelis need to be cautious, Cyrille Cohen, the head of the immunotherapy laboratory at Bar-Ilan University told the Post, as the number of children and educational staff who entered isolation reached into the dozens on Thursday. "It is hard to say if we are seeing the beginning of a second wave" of the novel coronavirus, he said, "but we have to be cautious. The numbers are very low, but the numbers were very low when we started this pandemic." As of Thursday, at press time, there were 2,680 active cases of coronavirus, including 36 people on ventilators. Some 279 people have died. Cohen warned that if Israel starts to see infection rates spike in "school after school, it will be a second wave. People can behave like everything is OK, but it does not mean that COVID-19 has disappeared. We should not be alarmed, but we should be alert." Cohen made his comments on the same day that a particularly high number of students and teachers across the country entered isolation after a number of educational faculty and staff were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. In the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) city of Bnei Brak an unidentified number of children and staff were asked to home-quarantine after a teacher's aide at a special education school was diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2. In addition, two preschools were closed in Rishon Lezion after an assistant teacher who worked in them was found sick, putting more than 20 children into home-quarantine. The N12 news site also reported about an additional facility in Ramle.At first, some 50 children from a kindergarten in north Tel Aviv were asked to isolate after a staff member tested positive. However, several hours later, the Health Ministry reported that the staffer received a false positive and the children could resume their normal routines. At the same time, 30 people – 27 residents and three employees – of a rehabilitation facility in Rehovot were isolated after a staff member was found to have the virus. Last week, a teacher at a school in Rehovot who had been in contact with 52 students and many staff members tested positive for the virus. The school was shut down until May 27. On Thursday, the Health Ministry reported that it had done widespread testing at the institution. So far, eight people have tested positive – three teachers, two students and some of their family members. Prof. Sigal Sadetsky, head of Public Health Services, said the Health Ministry was aware when it agreed to open schools fully on Sunday that the country could see an increase in infection, and that her team is "monitoring the state of infection among students and staff." First through third grade classes opened three weeks ago and preschools and kindergartens on May 10. But former Health Ministry director-general Prof. Gabi Barbash told the Post that Israel "may have acted too hastily in opening the total system." He said that while "we will know only in a few days – since the incubation period for the novel coronavirus is between five and 14 days – he believes the school system is likely going to have to return to a capsule-based system. "It was essential to open schools," Hadassah CEO Zeev Rotstein told the Post, explaining that children need a framework, it is the country's duty to teach them and parents have to go back to work. But he said that if not monitored, schools are ripe for "super-spreaders, " individuals who spread the disease to many people at once. "One teacher in front of a class that comes in contact with other adults and pupils, and if no specific care is being taken it may develop," Rotstein explained. "The teacher will infect many kids who in turn will, of course, infect their own families, and so on and so forth." He equated the situation that the Health Ministry has created in schools to a similar one that erupted in senior living facilities during the height of the pandemic. Around one third of all coronavirus deaths in Israel were residents of these facilities, which could have been avoided, he said, but the super-spreaders were not tested before coming in contact with the older people they cared for. "In nursing homes, it was not the tenants, but those coming in and out to treat and nourish them," he said. There are two ways to stop the spread of coronavirus and the first is screening. He recommended routinely testing teachers and school staff for coronavirus – even as often as once a week. The other, he said, is by maintaining good hygiene and requiring that students stay two meters apart. The country has reduced the number of people tested per day by 40% to 67% from what it was testing only a few weeks ago. On May 18 it tested 4,347 people, 7,602 on the 19th and 6,938 on the 20th and 5,969 on the 21st. At its peak, Israel screened around 13,000 people a day. Moreover, Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov touted a new serological testing program that was supposed to roll out at the latest this week in an interview with The New York Times. However, it was revealed to the Post earlier this week that those tests have not started. Serological tests show that people have had an immune response to the infection. Ran Sa'ar, CEO of Maccabi Healthcare Services, told the Post that the testing was delayed due to "logistics," which the Post confirmed with an official close to the Health Ministry. "There are several methodological issues that have not been solved," the official said. "There are lots of issues they are arguing about." Cohen explained that without serological testing, Israel has no data on how much of the population is immune. "If we will have more serological testing, we will be able to say, `I do see a rise in cases, but on the other hand, I know we have 20% or 30% of the population already immune to the virus so I am less alarmed because we are starting to see some herd immunity.'" Rotstein said the Health Ministry has been "stingy" on screening since the start of the pandemic and that even after the entire country was forced into lockdown and more than one million people were driven to unemployment, the ministry has barely changed its testing methodology. Currently, the ministry will test only those people who have coronavirus symptoms or are already in quarantine, as opposed to running a random, widespread testing program to catch asymptomatic cases. Research shows that around 80% of coronavirus patients have little or no symptoms of the disease and are therefore the most likely to spread it. If the testing situation is not rectified, the impact on the economy could be even more severe than the first time around, Cohen said. Each week the education system remains closed costs the economy around $739 million, the Bank of Israel reported.

Palestinians Refuse to Accept Corona Aid Sent on UAE's Historic Flight to Israel

By United with Israel

On Thursday, the Palestinian Authority announced a new tactic to shoot itself in the foot: refusing to accept 16 tons of humanitarian aid destined for Palestinian communities. The reason the PA refused to accept the much-needed supplies? The aid arrived on the historic first commercial flight from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Israel. On Tuesday evening, an Etihad Airways plane arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, completing the first direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Israel. While Israel and the UAE do not currently have official diplomatic relations, similar to most states in the Arab world, the two nations have forged covert ties over the years, much to the chagrin of the PA, which demands that all Arab nations boycott Israel. The PA claimed it rejected the supplies because the donation wasn't cleared directly with the PA, reported Palestinian news site Ma'an. "The [PA] doesn't want to serve as a bridge for the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel," Bloomberg reported, based on Ma'an's coverage. During the past several years, high-profile Israelis such as Miri Regev and Israel Katz have made visits to the UAE, and the Israeli national anthem was played at a sporting event there in 2019. The UAE joins other Arab nations enjoying warming relations with Israel, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman. Jordan and Egypt both signed peace treaties with Israel and maintain full diplomatic relations.

Stray Camel Kills Israeli Motorist, Part of Ongoing Problem in Negev Region

By World Israel News

A 30-year-old man was killed Tuesday night after colliding into a camel on a highway in southern Israel. Road fatalities caused by stray camels have been a recurring problem in the Jewish State. According to Regavim, a movement for protecting Israel's resources, the police respond to 1,000 stray camel complaints on an annual basis. "Tragically, tonight we are once again seeing the unnecessary loss of life on the blood-drenched roads of the Negev. This is an inconceivable price to pay; the tragedy is compounded by the fact that it was both foreseeable and avoidable," says Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim. In the past decade, more than 350 motorists have been injured and over a dozen killed by stray camels. Only recently did the government step in to help police track those responsible. The Camel Law passed in June 2018 requires all camels to be registered and identified with an ID chip. Prior to the law, owners were only required to attach a tag to the camel's ear for identification purposes. However, since its passage, only one-third of camels in southern Israel have been chipped and registered by Israel's Veterinary Services. "I call upon the incoming Minister of Agriculture Alon Schuster, who is well aware of this terrible situation that has claimed so many victims, to roll up his sleeves without delay and to ensure that the Camel Law is implemented immediately and in full," said Deutsch. The Agriculture Ministry estimates that 200 to 300 camel herds roam around the country, mostly in southern Israel, and about 1,500 are born every year.

PA Media: 'Israel Steals Palestinian Falafel, Hummus to Create Own History'


Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported that a host of a program on official Palestinian Authority TV claimed that "since food reveals each nation's culture and history, the Occupation has attempted and continues its attempts to rob us of everything connected to our history: our garb, the keffiyeh, and foods like hummus and falafel." She went on to say: "It tries to steal them and attributes them to itself because it lacks any history of its own in this land. It's not enough for it to steal the land. No, It also covets our foods, garb, and water."

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