Monthly Archives: January 2022

Israel Ministry of Defense Signs Agreement With U.S. to Acquire Helicopters and Refueling Aircraft

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — January 2, 2022 … Israel Defense Minister, Benny Gantz appears to be preparing for engagement with Iran.

“These procurement agreements are significant milestones in the Israel Defense Force’s buildup processes. We will continue to strengthen our capabilities and to change and adapt our Air Force to face future challenges both near and far.”

On Thursday evening, the Israel Ministry of Defense Mission to the U.S. signed an agreement (LOA) for the purchase of 12 Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky helicopters, which will replace the IAF’s “Yasur” helicopters. The scope of the agreement is estimated at 2 billion dollars in (FMF) funding. The defense agreement was signed with the US Navy by the Head of the Mission, IDF Brig. Gen. (Res.), Michel Ben Baruch. The agreement includes an option to procure 6 additional helicopters. The first helicopters are expected in Israel during the year 2026.

The Head of the Israeli Mission signed an additional agreement for the procurement of two Boeing KC-46 refueling aircraft. The agreement amounts to approximately 1.1 billion dollars. The platform will be adapted to meet the IAF’s operational requirements and Israeli systems will be integrated into aircraft.

The procurement of these high tech, ultra modern aircraft is part of a large-scale program undertaken by the Israel Ministry of Defense together with the IDF over the last year and a half, with the objective of strengthening the IDF’s capabilities, force buildup and preparedness to face existing and future threats.

The procurement plans include the purchase of a new fleet of F-35 aircraft, refueling aircraft, CH-53K helicopters, advanced air munition, air defense systems, new marine and land platforms as well as cyber defense systems.

First Shipment of Pfizer Anti-Coronavirus Drug Arrives in Israel

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — January 1, 2022 … The first shipment of the Pfizer drug for Covid-19 has arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport. 

Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett led the negotiations with Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, together with Israel Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Health Ministry personnel. 

The drug known as Paxlovid, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week for Covid patients age 12 and over who are vulnerable to becoming severely ill because of their age or prior medical conditions.

Israel on Thursday approved a fourth dose of Covid vaccine for people with weakened immune systems, moving ahead of much of the world to try to protect its most vulnerable against the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

The decision by health officials came more than a week after an advisory panel of Israeli experts recommended a fourth dose for people with weak immune systems, as well as for others at high risk, including those aged 60 and over and health care workers.

At least half the new daily cases in Israel are now believed to be from the Omicron variant, and experts say that variant is likely to surpass Delta as the dominant variant in the country within a couple of weeks.

Over 4 million Israelis have received a booster shot, out of a total population of 9 million, but about a million eligible Israelis have not. In November, Israel became one of the first countries after the United States to approve Covid vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11.

“The Pfizer drug that is arriving in Israel today, among the first countries in the world, is an important addition to the arsenal in the war against the pandemic,” said Prime Minister Bennett. 

“At an Israel Cabinet meeting several weeks ago, I instructed that the procurement of the drug be advanced and thanks to our effort and determination, this is happening. 

Just as we were global pioneers in giving the third and fourth doses of the vaccine, we are now leading as well in giving the drug to the citizens of Israel. 

Thanks to our rapid action, these life saving drugs have arrived in Israel quickly and will assist us in getting past the peak of the coming Omicron wave. 

I would like to thank my friends, Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and the personnel of his ministry, El Al for bringing the shipment and everyone who took part in the effort. 

We are acting correctly, in an orderly and efficient manner, in a combined effort – of tests, vaccinations and now the drug. Together, we will overcome the Covid Omicron wave.” 

Israel President Herzog Hosts New Year’s Eve Reception For Church Leaders In The Holy Land

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — January 1, 2022 … President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog hosted the leaders of the Christian churches in the Holy Land for Israel’s traditional New Year’s Eve reception at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Joining the reception were Israel Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked; Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem; Archbishop Battista Pietro Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land (Head of the Franciscan Order in Israel); Archbishop Sevan Gharibian, Chief Sacristan, Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem; Archbishop Dr. Amer Yousef Matta, Head for the Greek Catholic Church of Haifa and all Galilee; Archbishop Dr. Hosam Naoum, Head of the Anglican Evangelical Episcopal Church in Israel; Archbishop Yaser Al-Ayyash, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem of the Greek Catholic Patriarch; Fr. Antonios Alorshleme, representative of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem; Abba Zebeaman Samuel Melikamu, Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Israel; Archbishop Moussa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarch in Jerusalem; Fr. Simon, representative of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem; Bishop Camil Semaan, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch in Jerusalem; Bishop Sani-Ibrahim Azar, Head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Israel; Propst Joachim Lenz, Head of the German Lutheran Church in Israel. Among the lay leaders: Supreme Court Justice George Kara and Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam.

“The diverse Christian communities that you lead, with which Israel has been blessed, have been a gift to the people of the State of Israel,” said President Herzog. “Each community is an integral part of the vibrant mosaic that makes up the State of Israel, and you have truly enriched our nation and our land, as have our many Christian friends around the world.”

Herzog continued: “We are all children of the Almighty God, the same God, and we all dream of a better world by filling it with peace, kindness, charity and mercy. We can do this together, united by our common values rather than dividing the world with differences.”

“Today, as historic winds of peace blow through our region, all the Children of Abraham – Christians, Muslims and Jews- can come together once again. Indeed, it is time to build a new partnership between Middle Eastern faiths, based as much on our similarities as on our unique, individual humanity.”

The President stated: “As President of the State of Israel, I am wholeheartedly committed to preserving absolute freedom of religion and worship for members of all faiths in this Holy Land. I know Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked joins me in assuring you that we will stand strong against any forms of racism, discrimination or extremism, and we will reject any assault or threat on religious communities, leaders or houses of worship.”

The President proceeded to ask church leaders to relay his warmest wishes to Christian communities around the globe and urged them to emphasize the importance of following public health guidelines in their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Herzog concluded by wishing the church leaders and their communities a Happy New Year in English, Hebrew, and Arabic: “May we all be blessed with a happy and healthy New Year, and may we work together to expand the circle of peace and tolerance in the Holy Land, in our region, and around the world.”

Israel Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said: “I want to wish all of you a healthy and joyful New Year, a year in which we build new bonds of friendship and cooperation between all of the religious communities of the region, a year in which our prayers for peace are answered. While we may have differences in belief, we all share a deep love for the Holy Land, a deep connection to its history, and a deep belief in its future as a source of blessing for the entire world.”

Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, told the President on behalf of the Church leaders: “We are particularly appreciative of your steadfast commitment to the integrity of the multicultural, multiethnic, and multireligious nature of our region and your defense of the rights of all those who call the Holy Land our home. We the heads of the churches in Jerusalem remain grateful for the declared commitment of the Israeli government to uphold a safe and secure home for Christians in the Holy Land and to preserve the Christian communities as an integral part of the tapestry of the modern community.”