Information and news on israel

Poverty after the Israeli-Palestinian ConflictWhile the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been brewing since 1948 after Israel became a sovereign state, the two regions’ dispute reached a boiling point in May 2021. While each side exchanged fire, the citizens of both nations were in the middle of the crossfire. However, conditions will hopefully improve as the two nations continue to make amends.

What is Happening Now?

In May 2021, after a multitude of Palestinian demonstrations, Israel launched both lethal and nonlethal attacks on the Palestinian group Hamas in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Israel raided a mosque in Gaza which caused Hamas to retaliate. The Global Conflict tracker says that Israel launched more than 100 rockets during the attack leaving dozens of Palestinians dead.

Although both sides declared outright victory in the recent battles, both Hamas and Israel agreed to a ceasefire on May 21. The United States has offered to orchestrate an agreement between Israel and Palestine during both the Trump and Biden presidencies. While Palestine denied the Trump agreement, Biden is still working to alleviate tensions.

The Impact on Citizens

The conflict has impacted both Israeli and Palestinian citizens. Refugees in Jerusalem face removal amidst the debate. According to Amnesty International, Palestinian citizens in Israel experience discrimination as they cannot obtain marriage licenses or education, and experiencing home evictions and torture. Gender-based violence and racism are also running rampant.

The BBC has stated that the nations have lost electricity and have lost their homes due to the rocket attacks, however, the power is slowly turning back on. Gaza City faces severe overpopulation; 9,000 people inhabit the area per square kilometer. People have experienced limitations in regard to health, water and food convoy services. For example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has left a million citizens in Gaza City who is “moderately-to-severely food insecure.” Over 40% of those citizens are also unemployed in the strip.

How is the World Helping?

The United States Senate recently passed the Israel Normalization Act of 2021. The bill, according to Congress, “[promotes] the normalization of relations between Israel, Arab states, and other relevant countries and regions” and by improving relationships between Israel and other Arabic countries including Palestine. Another facet is that “the State Department must report on options for U.S. international efforts to promote the strengthening of ties between Israel, Arab states, and other relevant countries and regions.” The State Department also announced that it would donate $360 million worth of assistance to Palestine; many of the funds are supporting the U.N. and other humanitarian organizations. The Palestinian government will receive another $75 million for “economic assistance.”

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also stated that global aid efforts are present in Gaza, including many of the same teams that helped with recent Haitian earthquakes. The focus of these teams is to promote medical transfers and international aid. The International Red Cross has also delivered more than 1,000 household items to Gaza residents and deployed a surgical team to the area. In late May 2021, the BBC reported that aid had arrived in Gaza via a convoy only hours after the implementation of the ceasefire. Recent reports state that conditions are steadily improving as more help comes from international partners.

– Laken Kincaid
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health In Israel
Emm Roy once stated that when a person has a mental illness, “People assume you aren’t sick unless they see the sickness on your skin like scars forming a map of all the ways you’re hurting.” In Israel, people associate much negative stigma with mental illness for this very reason. The most significant barriers in the fight to aid mental health in Israel include shame and stigma in communities.

Anxiety and Depression During the Pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak in February 2020, statistics showed a significant increase in anxiety and depression rates in Israel. A study published in June 2020 found that “only a small percentage of the sample received mental health care from a professional, with native-born Israelis less likely than recent immigrants to receive such care.” To learn more about people’s hesitance to receive help, the Mental Health Services at the Ministry of Health conducted a study to examine these attitudes.

This study on mental health in Israel discovered that while the public may be open to receiving psychiatric treatment, the stigma that many associate with such therapies discourages them from getting the help they need. Approximately one-third of respondents do not know if they have access to a mental health clinic in their area. Additionally, the study showed that people do not want to enter a psychiatric hospital when they have mental illness issues; they would rather go to a psychiatric ward in a general hospital. Meanwhile, the study showed that individuals who do not experience mental health difficulties often express feelings of fear.

Mental Health in Israel’s Workforce

The stigma surrounding mental health exists in Israel’s workforce as well. About 52% of the people questioned stated that “they would not hire a person with a psychiatric illness.” Additionally, roughly 35% of these respondents would be unwilling to work with someone with mental health issues and 31% felt unprepared to have a coworker with similar difficulties.

Eliminating Mental Health Stigma

The stigma that many attach to mental illness in Israel stems from a lack of understanding and education. Because mental illness may not manifest physically, when people see an individual acting strangely or unusually, they tend to fear what they cannot see.

To help establish a culture of acceptance in Israel, in February 2021, the Jerusalem College of Technology partnered with McLean Hospital “to localize and adapt McLean’s award-winning campaign, Deconstructing Stigma: Changing Attitudes About Mental Health.” With this project, students at JCT will attend seminars that share research on the stigma surrounding mental health and allow students to speak to individuals who are suffering from mental illness.

After undergoing this education, the students will then share the knowledge they have received with different communities throughout Israel and break the stereotypes surrounding mental health in Israel. McLean Hospital’s program teaches people to have empathy for others and encourages open discussion on a traditionally taboo subject. Most importantly, its efforts are showing individuals who are currently suffering from mental illness that they no longer have to suffer in silence.

– Sara Jordan Ruttert
Photo: Flickr

How Affordable Irrigation Technology Helps FarmersSupPlant, an Israeli firm that installs sophisticated irrigation systems for villages facing water scarcity and low yields, wants to improve its system and spread its work to even more people in need. As such, the organization is pioneering affordable irrigation technology by cutting down on the amount of infrastructure its systems need to function.

The Old Ways

Reliable data is crucial to getting the most out of an irrigation system. While practical experience can help some of the world’s most impoverished farmers improve their yields, there is considerable room to improve from the uncertainty of relying on intuition. SupPlant was built on recognizing the potential of making these improvements with the accuracy that only sophisticated data retrieval equipment can provide.

Efforts to improve agricultural income with innovative new techniques have been successful under the startup model of installing small sensors to relay data like climate conditions or plant health. SupPlant’s customers are mainly from farms in South Africa and Venezuela, with additional demand from Australia and Mexico.

Farmers Review Africa reports a successful curve on implementing this system, with a 1,200% increase in demand for SupPlant’s solutions in 2020. However, when it comes to accessing the 450 million farmers that subsist on two hectares or less of productive soil, SupPlant encountered a problem.

Financial Barriers

Until recently, SupPlant has struggled with the cost of serving rural communities. Installing hardware is very expensive for farmers, so wealth is necessary to benefit from this system. Low-income farmers with small parcels of land have “no ability to afford knowledge and technology that is super expensive and very high-end,” says SupPlant CEO Ori Ben Ner in an interview with The Media Line.

If the data from these physical sensors is a fundamental aspect of SupPlant’s agricultural assistance, then providing affordable irrigation technology must preserve this data while eliminating the very hardware that provides it. After $19 million in fundraising from an array of venture capitalists, SupPlant is providing exactly that.

How Does it Work?

Rolling out affordable irrigation technology is a balancing act that requires finding ways to increase efficiency without compromising the benefits of full implementation. The new system adapts its older iteration as the foundation for its improvements. The steps to accomplishing this are as follows:

  1. Cloud computing forms the backbone of this endeavor. Thousands of small farms can grow the same crops under similar conditions. Thus, the data gathered from sensors in a single farm can benefit other farmers after it is uploaded to an easily accessible database.
  2. Collecting this data is only part of the process. Vast amounts of data have limited utility if farmers lack the training to interpret it well enough to make informed decisions. SupPlant employs algorithms based on artificial intelligence to read a constantly updating sensor feed to provide legible recommendations on how to manage irrigation for specific crops and environments.
  3. Once the data is ready, it is up to farmers to do what the algorithm suggests. Many of these directives may be as simple as adjusting water levels based on how much one of the 32 crops in the database requires to stay healthy and resilient. Climatic data may also factor in, reducing water use if there is a high probability of rain.

The net result is not entirely accurate because the data cannot reasonably account for minor variations between different farms. Broad utility at an affordable price nonetheless offsets these considerations in light of what affordable irrigation technology can still accomplish.

Results on the Ground

Even though prohibitive cost leaves only 2% of the world’s farmers able to install sensors on their land, these sensors accumulate enough data to meet the needs of affordable irrigation technology for the other 98%. “We increase yields starting at day one by 20-30% while saving 30-40% water use,” says Ben Ner on the impact of widespread implementation.

Earlier cases of SupPlant’s success in 2020 provide a definitive outline for the potential of making its agricultural assistance available to low-income brackets. South African farmers who could afford these services leveraged superior knowledge to squeeze an extra 41% out of their lemon harvest, while Mexican farmers transformed a 15% reduction in water usage to a 20% increase in their mango yield.

What is Next for SupPlant?

With affordable irrigation technology now a reality through sensorless data, SupPlant aims to breach the poverty line that stopped so many farmers from reaping its benefits. Short-term goals for 2021 deal with expanding services to Kenya, and the company expects 500,000 new farmers by September 2021. More ambitious goals for 2022 anticipate two million new users of sensorless irrigation, counting many African countries and India as the next beneficiaries.

– Samuel Katz
Photo: Flickr

disability and poverty in Israel
While the national rate of poverty in Israel sits at roughly 19%, the relative poverty rate of Israelis with disabilities is 24%. Disability and poverty in Israel are not dichotomous.

Cyclical Poverty and Disability

Poverty can cause disability because it frequently leads to polluted environments, unsafe working conditions and lack of access to medical care, proper nutrition, safe drinking water, hygiene supplies and education. Disability also causes poverty. According to the United Nations, discrimination causes many disabled people to experience “limited access to education and employment,” causing disabled people to disproportionately live in poverty.

According to the United Nations, “For every child killed in warfare, three are wounded and acquire a permanent disability.” These children have a 1.7 times greater risk than children without disabilities of becoming victims of violent crime. Furthermore, without proper education and employment opportunities, it is unlikely that disabled children living in poverty will escape it as they grow older.

How Israeli Innovations are Revolutionizing Accessibility

Accessibility is not only a human right, it is also the means by which disabled people achieve equal opportunity. Lack of accessibility often means inequitable treatment for people with disabilities and assistive technologies are a major component of accessibility. Today, several Israeli companies are at the forefront of assistive technology development. A few innovations that have come out of Israel in recent times are:

  • The Sesame Phone: The Sesame Phone is a smartphone that people can operate solely by “hands-free, head-controlled access.” It is ideal for people living with a variety of conditions that cause paralysis.
  • ReWalk: ReWalk is a wearable robotic skeleton that provides “powered hip and knee movement to those with spinal cord injuries (SCI).”
  • EyeMusic: EyeMusic is a Sensory Substitution Device (SSD) that emerged to provide auditory sensory substitution in order to simulate visual stimuli for the blind.
  • Lola: Lola is a multilingual, fully voice-controlled SMS application that voice commands control, catering to a wide variety of people with disabilities.
  • Playwork: Playwork is common physical therapy equipment that received rebranding as various games in order to ease the transition to rehabilitation.

While all these innovations are changing the landscape of accessibility, the innovations are not cheap. Not only do those hoping to acquire innovative accessibility options have to worry about affordability, but these technologies’ creators also have to worry about funding their production. Finding funding for a startup or development project is not an easy task.

Assistive Technological Solutions for the Disabled

Assistive Technological Solutions for the Disabled — “Ezer-Tech” is a collaborative program between the Innovation Authority and the National Insurance Institute that seeks to encourage research and development of assistive technologies. Through Israel’s Innovation Authority, the program supplies grants to Israeli companies and nonprofits who are working to develop assistive technologies. A grant from the program can cover up to 75% of a project. The Innovation Authority also works to establish partnerships between startups and small businesses and international partners. Companies like Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Amazon Web Services to name a few, have benefitted from the funding that the Innovation Authority provides.

The Future

Through grant programs like Assistive Technological Solutions for the Disabled — “Ezer-Tech,” Israeli developers, like those who created the Sesame Phone, ReWalk, EyeMusic, Lola and Playwork, can receive funding for research and development of assistive technologies. Providing assistive technologies to people with disabilities opens up many possibilities in the job market, which in turn, contributes to economic growth and lifts disabled individuals out of poverty.

Access to funding for developing assistive technologies would allow the brutal cycle of disability and poverty in Israel to cease and create ways to prioritize accessibility for citizens with disabilities. Through assistive technologies, many disabled people could achieve full integration into both society and the labor market, allowing a reduction in the correlation between disability and poverty in Israel.

Michelle Schwab
Photo: Flickr

increased poverty in PalestineThe Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been ongoing for more than 70 years, has placed strain on the economic stability of Palestinian citizens. In the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has further contributed to the economic challenges that people have faced in Palestine, leading to a widespread and worsening state of poverty. Increased poverty in Palestine calls for increased international aid and support.

Poverty in Palestine

A large portion of Palestine’s population lives below the poverty line and cannot afford food, clothing and shelter. In 2017, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) found that one in every three Palestinians lived in poverty, equating to almost 30% of people. The Gaza Strip had the highest concentration of citizens living in poverty at a rate of 53%.

Inadequate work opportunities and low wages play a large role in poverty in Palestine. Research indicates that the job status of the head of the house greatly impacts the risk of poverty. The PCBS also found that 42.1% of households whose heads did not have a steady job lived in poverty compared to 25.8% of households with an employed head of the house.

This is especially alarming when one takes the unemployment rate into account as 43.1% of Gaza’s citizens were unemployed in the last quarter of 2020. The average monthly wage for those with a steady source of income in Gaza is a mere 682 ILS (about $207). Many people earn below the minimum wage, making it difficult for Palestinians to pull themselves out of poverty.

The Effect of COVID-19 on Poverty

The COVID-19 pandemic destroyed the little progress that Palestine made toward economic stability. While Palestinians were able to narrowly dodge the first wave of the pandemic, the next two waves destroyed economic gains. The World Bank predicted that “after growth of a mere 1% in 2019,” the Palestinian economy may contract by a minimum of 7.6% in 2020. In addition, due to decreased revenue, the financing gap could increase from $800 million in 2019 to more than $1.5 billion in 2020. Vaccines have become an issue as well.

Although the U.N. released a statement declaring that Israel is responsible for providing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, Israel excluded Palestinians from the vaccination campaign until recently. Israel prioritized only Palestinians working in Israel, overlooking the millions of Palestinians living in or near Gaza, for whom Israel has allotted only 5,000 doses.

Without vaccines, Palestinians are unable to leave their homes for work and food, plunging them further into poverty. The international COVAX scheme, backed by the WHO, should cover up to 20% of vaccine requirements for Palestinians. Palestinians have also sourced “limited quantities of vaccines from elsewhere” but have a long way to go to achieve herd immunity.

Education in Palestine

Many Palestinian children no longer have access to safe schooling. A U.N. report detailing the violence keeping children out of school mentions “threats of demolition, clashes on the way to school between students and security forces, teachers stopped at checkpoints and violent actions of Israeli forces and settlers on some occasions.”

These conditions impacted more than 19,000 children in the 2018 school year, limiting their ability to safely obtain an education. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the struggles of securing an education, especially for the impoverished population of Palestine. The Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reports that 34.83% of Palestinian students could not join virtual classes due to a lack of resources and internet connection.

Due to a lack of education and opportunities, Israeli officers have arrested many children trying to cross the Israeli border for a better life. As of April 2021, 71.4% of children who attempted to cross the border were school dropouts trying to escape increased poverty in Palestine.

Organizations Working to Reduce Poverty

Organizations like UNICEF are addressing the education crisis through initiatives such as the Life Skills and Citizenship Education Initiative, which began in 2015. The program focuses on enhancing life skills and improving citizenship education. UNICEF also conducts “entrepreneurship skills programs for adolescents to support their future employment.” The program includes internships and career counseling.

In 2020, the World Food Programme (WFP) spent $57 million of U.S. funding to ease poverty in Palestine, assisting more than 430,000 citizens. This included 33% of women-led households and 4.3% of the disabled population. The WFP provided cash-based transfers, food packages and “agriculture assets and training” to address increased poverty in Palestine.

The Road Ahead

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has severely worsened the state of poverty in Palestine as citizens end up in the crossfire. However, the ceasefire that Palestinian and Israeli officials announced in May 2021 may be a step in the direction of safety and stability for Palestinians and Israelis alike. Greater international support will help lower poverty rates and raise the quality of life in Palestine.

Mariam Abaza
Photo: pixabay

HIV/AIDS in Israel
With the marvels of medical technology, medical professionals can now cure most infections and diseases with a combination of treatments and pharmaceutical drugs. However, it is challenging for them to treat some viruses still. Amongst the stubborn viruses that still elude the medical communities’ ability is the HIV/AIDS virus, a diagnosis that for too many means the end of living a normal life. The effects of HIV/AIDS in Israel have been profound and COVID-19 may worsen the situation.

The Effects of HIV/AIDS in Israel

Following the first case of AIDS in the 1980s, the world bore witness to an epidemic that swept the globe in an unprecedented manner. From 1981 to 2010, Israel reported nearly 10,000 cases, with around 7,000 of them still ongoing in the country. People living with HIV/AIDS in Israel fall into some of the most vulnerable groups in society. This includes injecting drug users and immigrants. Israeli immigrants, often from countries like Sudan, China and Eritrea, often face obstacles receiving treatment for AIDS. While testing is free, the pathway to HIV/AIDs drugs remains expensive and out of reach for many. This creates a socioeconomic divide on who has access to treatment and who does not. According to a report by the Israeli Task Force, many immigrants are unaware of their access to free testing.

COVID-19 Compounding Consequences

Since the beginning, nation-states have strived to mitigate the effects of the HIV/AIDS virus on their populations. Communities most at risk often face marginalization and are disproportionately at risk of poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic has halted services to help these groups. This has caused many to fall into poverty. The Health Ministry of Israel worries that poverty and food and housing insecurity will rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the Health Ministry of Israel is collaborating with other government sectors to create and strengthen initiatives to fight HIV/AIDS. For example, needle exchange programs, homeless shelters and meals all function as efforts to combat the effects of HIV/AIDS in Israel. Health officials in these programs are now essential as the government prepares for a rise in cases.

The Good News

As a result, Israel is taking steps in the right direction to fight HIV/AIDS. Within society, a conservative outlook on sex and the religious practice of circumcision keep the numbers relatively low. In addition regional cooperation inside of Israel with IGOs like the UN and WHO have made workshops and collaboration with Israeli NGOs and the Jerusalem AIDS Project. Israeli researchers are some of the world’s foremost pioneers and drivers of HIV/AIDS vaccine research and in 2019 introduced a ‘mosaic’ vaccine that identifies and responds to more variant strains of the HIV virus. Though HIV/AIDS is still a prevalent issue, Israel is making great strides in combating the virus.

– Alex Pinamang
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Vaccination In Israel
As of early June 2021, estimates have determined that over 80% of the Israeli adult population has received vaccinations with reports of 15 COVID-19 cases in one week. This is the all-time low for Israel in more than a year. However, the successful campaign for COVID-19 vaccination in Israel has encouraged the government to be more lenient regarding COVID-19 restrictions.

Making Progress

Recently, the Israel Health Ministry let the public know that it will remove the Green Pass and Purple Badge restriction. A Green Pass represents those who have entirely recovered from COVID-19 and those fully vaccinated. A Green Pass is downloadable to a person’s phone or can be a physical document. Israel’s Ministry of Health authorized it. This became necessary to do activities associated with the general public. The Purple Badge represents a self-regulated standard that businesses use to help control the virus. That standard includes maintaining a two-meter distance between people and checking body temperature upon entering the facility. The lifting of the Green Pass and the Purple Badge will allow all businesses to resume normal activities without any limitations on the number of people in one area. Soon, this will extend to places of business, workplaces and public transportation.

Normality Returning

There are no further restrictions on the number of people gathered in a specific area, whether that be indoors or outdoors. Concerts and festivals can now restart and continue as pre-pandemic times. The indoor mask mandate will not change as of now. In December 2020, 10 million doses became available in Israel. The country has now moved onto vaccinating non-vulnerable groups. Israel is still cautious of foreign travelers. People who travel to Israel have to quarantine for a mandatory two weeks. Then, on day nine, they must receive a COVID-19 test. If an Israeli citizen would like to travel to a country with a high COVID-19 infection rate, they would need to provide special paperwork. The countries are Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, Ethiopia, South Africa, India, Mexico and Ukraine.

Will the Change Work?

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 vaccination in Israel has changed the dynamic in the country. Many are excited for the normalcy to return, while others are cautious. While the cases of COVID-19 are low, the Health Ministry is concerned that new strains will enter from abroad. The Ministry’s attention focuses on the international airport located in Ben-Gurion. However, regulations and restrictions become at risk. More than two-thirds of foreigners entering the country, do not spend the mandatory two weeks in quarantine. The solution to the problem is a monitoring electronic bracelet that already exists and is ready for use. The system needs the approval of the Constitutional Affairs Committee. However, this committee remains inactive at the moment.

Candice Lewis
Photo: Flickr

Covid-19 and Poverty in Israel
In 2020, poverty in Israel increased as the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world. At the beginning of 2021, at least 2 million Israelis were living below the poverty line. Israel’s poverty rate increased from 22.4% in 2019 to 23% in 2020. In addition, Israel’s economy took a 2.4% contraction in 2020, resulting in high unemployment. The wealth divide became more evident during the pandemic as poverty in Israel continued to grow. However, as poverty devastated the economy, there have been significant efforts for recovery. This article explores the relationship between poverty and COVID-19 in Israel along with some organizations’ efforts to provide aid.

The Poverty Rate in Israel

Before the pandemic began, many Israeli citizens were already living in poverty. At least 1.8 million people lived under the poverty line in 2018, with 841,000 of those being children. Their standard of living dipped significantly throughout 2020 as well. Fortunately, government handouts and unemployment benefits have helped reduce poverty rates for many low-income and middle-class people. Thus, government aid played an instrumental role in reducing poverty rates and helping Israelis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The beginning of 2021 saw some growth in the economy. In December 2020, Israel began its vaccination drive, hoping to vaccinate at least 60,000 people a day to combat the coronavirus.

Economy in Israel

With the Israeli economy reopening and most citizens having received the COVID-19 vaccine, there were only around 400 active infections at the end of March 2021, the lowest since June 2020. Serious infections also hit a three-month low. As of early July 2021, around 5.2 million people received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. With most of its vulnerable population vaccinated, Israel emerged from its third national lockdown in February 2021.

While Israel’s economy is starting to recover and lockdowns and restrictions are slowly starting to ease, the pandemic plunged 15% of its middle class plunged into poverty. The need for financial aid rose to 70% in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Despite the surge in poverty, however, there is still hope for Israelis suffering from the pandemic. Various organizations are currently implementing solutions to aid impoverished communities in Israel. An Economic Survey of Israel has identified solutions that can help Israel recover from the pandemic. The presented measures and reforms in the survey included upgrading infrastructure, improving educational outcomes, supporting the poor, simplifying taxes, reducing economic distortions and reducing health risks by improving the environment.

IMPROVATE Innovative Conference

Israel is currently using Israeli technology to help it get out of its COVID-19 crisis. An IMPROVATE Innovative conference occurred in early 2021 where Israeli Innovative and Technology companies met to discuss how their companies can assist Israelis in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. IMPROVATE launched in September 2020 to connect world leaders in the advancement of global progress. With these meetings taking place, it seems as if technological advances will play a role in helping to reshape Israel after its economic crisis.

Latet

Nonprofit organizations have also stepped in to help with the economic disaster. Latet has been the leading NGO fighting poverty in Israel for the past 24 years. It is continuing to help the people of Israel by assisting its most vulnerable populations that the pandemic devastated. Latet believes the Israeli government should be doing more to combat inequality and improve access to resources in Israel.

The nonprofit launched an emergency response during the pandemic to help Israel’s elderly population. With help from volunteers, Latet has provided packages including food, hygiene products and entertainment items to the homes of older people to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The nonprofit has also launched a hotline for populations that need assistance with food or other necessities. Latet has distributed 45,000 emergency packages in addition to its regular program, which helps 60,000 families in need.

Hope for the Future

While COVID-19 has increased poverty in Israel, hope still exists for economic recovery. Millions of Israelis are receiving vaccinations, the economy is slowly reopening and technology companies and NGOs are willing to help the nation deal with the aftermath of COVID-19. While some economic progress for Israel has occurred, the push for further progress must continue.

– Jose Ahumada
Photo: Flickr

Children in GazaMalala Yousafzai is an activist who works to provide educational opportunities to girls around the world. Yousafzai began the Malala Fund in 2013. The Malala Fund helps girls gain access to 12 years of free, quality education in a safe environment. Today, Yousafzai continues to help children in developing countries with access to education. In May 2021, Yousafzai made a significant donation to safeguard children in Gaza. With the assistance of Save the Children, Defense for Children International Palestine and KinderUSA, Yousafzai’s $150,000 donation will help children and families in Gaza rebuild their lives.

The Conflict Between Israel and Palestine

The Gaza bombings since May 10, 2021, caused devastating damage to infrastructure and depleted resources for the two million people living in Gaza. The violence between Israel and Palestine is worse than it was during the Gaza War in 2014. While the tensions reached a ceasefire on May 20, 2021, the conflict stems from more than 25 years of issues between Israel and Palestine. The U.N. reports that 72,000 Palestinians have fled their homes in search of safety in the aftermath of the violent outbreak. Gaza’s hospitals are running low on resources to treat the thousands of wounded victims impacted by the bombings and violence. Many of these victims include children.

Malala Yousafzai Supports Children in Gaza

In May 2021, it was reported that “six hospitals, nine health clinics and about 50 education facilities were damaged in Gaza.” Furthermore, crucial infrastructures were destroyed and water pipes burst, all while hospitals struggle to care for those in need of medical attention. In order to address these issues, Yousafzai donated a total of $150,000 to three nonprofit organizations in order to help children in Gaza. These organizations are working to provide clean water for children and rebuild schools that were damaged during the conflict. The organizations will also provide medical resources for the children in Gaza.

Organizations Helping Children in Gaza

Yousafzai donated $100,000 to Save the Children, a global nonprofit organization addressing the needs of children in areas where children receive few resources. Save the Children creates programs with families, community leaders and local councils to foster successful and long-term change. As a result of Yousafzai’s donation, Save the Children will provide clean water access and food vouchers for children in Gaza. Moreover, the children will receive mental health support. The organization will also provide nutritional support for pregnant women and new mothers.

Other organizations aiding Gaza are Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI Palestine) and KinderUSA. Yousafzai donated $25,000 to each. DCI Palestine safeguards the rights of Palestinian children. Additionally, KinderUSA is an American Muslim organization with a goal to help “children in crisis through development and emergency relief.” KinderUSA responds to emergencies involving children in Pakistan, Turkey, Uganda, Somalia, Syria and beyond. In 2013, the organization provided winter clothes to Syrian children to protect them from the potential impacts of the harsh weather.

Hope for Children in Gaza

Save the Children asserts that a ceasefire on its own is not enough and that more must be done to safeguard the fundamental rights of children in Gaza. Yousafzai believes that Palestinian children deserve to live in peace and safety with opportunities to pursue an education and reach their full potential. With the help of organizations fighting to protect children’s rights, children living in Gaza have hope of a better tomorrow.

Nia Owens
Photo: Wikimedia

Israeli Eye Camps Treat and Train
MASHAV, the Hebrew acronym for Israel’s international development operation, pioneered the Israeli eye camps that are now undergoing implementation in many developing countries, providing sight to those who are unable to afford proper eye care. MASHAV has worked in regions such as North Africa and in countries such as China, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. People living in these regions often do not have access to proper medical care, so MASHAV has made it a goal to continue to provide aid to impoverished and disaster-affected areas worldwide.

The History of MASHAV

In 1958, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, or MASHAV, began. It helps developing countries lessen poverty, disease and hunger. MASHAV’s areas of expertise include crop production, animal care, nutrition and environmental sustainability, including addressing environmental challenges and bioenergy. MASHAV also specializes in fields such as water management, community development, irrigation, early childhood education, desert agriculture and many more.

One major way MASHAV has provided support is through sharing technology and providing technical training to local professionals. This is important as MASHAV seeks to work in a way that the progress the agency makes can continue once the agency’s members leave a country. Impoverished communities then obtain various skills and tools to lift themselves out of poverty. Seminars, workshops, training, conferences and exchange visits are a few of the most common ways MASHAV carries out its training goals.

Israeli Eye Camps in Africa

In Africa, many individuals living in poverty suffer from problems with their sight. Problems can include blindness due to malnutrition, trauma, cataracts or improper treatment of infections. Many are in need of surgery for cataracts and ocular plastic surgery services. However, inadequate healthcare facilities and severe shortages of supplies, trained personnel and equipment are prevalent in many African communities.

Beginning in 1960, Israeli medical experts and Israeli ophthalmologists set up clinics in impoverished communities in Africa to perform a variety of important activities. These clinics stayed in each area for two weeks. During that time, the medical professionals in the Israeli eye camps treated hundreds of people, restoring sight to many.

However, in addition to the effective reach of eye treatment, the camps provided medical training in eye care so that these areas could keep the camps operational after the Israeli professionals have left. In various developing nations, Israeli doctors found themselves training local professionals to carry on the mission through education on how to use a laser, to perform eye checkups and to perform other ocular procedures. This implementation of professionals into the community is a major long-term benefit of the eye camps.

Looking Forward

Many impoverished people in a variety of African countries suffer from treatable eyesight conditions. To aid these people, Israeli eye camps have allowed teams of doctors to treat individuals and train locals to maintain this kind of aid themselves. Providing a community with the knowledge and tools to continue projects begun by humanitarian aid organizations promotes social equity and sustainable growth.

– Madeline Drayna
Photo: Flickr