Omicron: Israel Bars Foreign Nationals From Entering Country; Report: Top Iranian Scientist Worked on Nuke Weapons Program



The high-level coronavirus cabinet on Saturday night approved fresh restrictions to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, with ministers voting to bar non-citizens from entering the country for two weeks.

The new rules going into effect on Sunday night will see foreign nationals barred from entering Israel for 14 days unless they receive special permission from a government panel. Israel reopened to foreign tourism in early November for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The Health Ministry also said on Saturday that it had designated 50 African countries as “red” countries due to the high risk of Omicron transmission, representing all but four countries on the continent.

Government ministers expanded the mandatory quarantine to vaccinated Israelis arriving from abroad and gave the Shin Bet security agency the go-ahead to resume tracking infected people, according to local media reports. The director of the agency reassured ministers that it would be used in a limited fashion for a short period – and only for those infected with Omicron.

Vaccinated Israelis — who under the existing rules had to take a coronavirus test upon landing and remain in isolation until receiving a negative result — will now be required to enter quarantine for 72 hours and take another COVID test on the third day after they arrive. Unvaccinated travelers must remain in quarantine for at least a week and can leave isolation upon receiving a negative test result conducted on the seventh day.

The coronavirus cabinet convened after news of the variant raised red flags worldwide over the weekend and at least one case was confirmed in Israel. The Health Ministry also reported seven suspected infections, including three people who had not recently traveled abroad – raising fears of community transmission within Israel.

The new restrictions are expected to last for at least several weeks until authorities have a better grasp of the threat posed by the Omicron variant.

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A former head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) hinted that the country’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh had worked on a nuclear weapons program, despite a fatwa (Islamic legal ruling) issued against nuclear weapons by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

In an interview with Iran’s IRNA news agency on Saturday, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the former head of the AEOI, said that despite Khamenei’s fatwa, Fakhrizadeh had “created this system,” adding that the scientist was tasked not just with defending Iran, but also with supporting the proxies backed by Iran. “When you get into these issues, the Zionists become sensitive,” Abbasi-Davani stated, adding that Fakhrizadeh had “characteristics” that Israel recognized “needed to be physically eliminated.” The former AEOI head added that Israel is looking for other similar targets.

The former AEOI head also told IRNA that he worked with Fakhrizadeh on “nuclear defense.”

Despite the statements hinting at a nuclear weapons program, the current head of the AEOI, Mohammad Eslami, stressed that Iran has shown that its nuclear path was “merely peaceful” during a ceremony marking the one-year anniversary since Fakhrizadeh was assassinated east of Tehran. The statements also came as Iran and world powers are set to renew talks on the JCPOA nuclear deal on Monday.

Fakhrizadeh was shot and killed in Damavand, east of Tehran, last November. Iran has blamed Israel for the assassination and has threatened revenge. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the killing.

In 2018, some 100,000 files obtained by Mossad agents from a secret atomic archive in Tehran proved that the Islamic Republic had lied to the international community by denying it had pursued a nuclear program with military dimensions.



Hamas has warned of violence following the announcement that President Isaac Herzog will light the first candle of Hanukkah at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Sunday.

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The US-designated terror group joined left-wing organizations in condemning the planned celebration at the West Bank holy site, which it described as “a flagrant violation” and a “provocation.”

Senior Hamas member Ismail Radwan said: “The Israeli occupation must bear full responsibility for the consequences of this attack,” adding: “We call on the masses of our people in the West Bank and our people in the city of Hebron to confront this provocative step and to confront the attack on the Ibrahimi Mosque.”

Israeli groups Breaking the Silence, Peace Now, Crime Minister and Mothers Against Violence also condemned Herzog’s planned visit, claiming it “legitimizes the apartheid regime and non-stop violence by settlers under which the Palestinian residents of the city live.”

According to both Jewish and Islamic tradition, the cave and adjoining field were purchased by Biblical patriarch Abraham as a burial plot. It is considered the second holiest site in Judaism.



The United States military is reported to have successfully completed three weeks of tests of the Iron Dome defense system at the Andersen Air Force Base in the North Pacific island of Guam.

The drills were carried out following the 2019 agreement between Israel and the US for the procurement of two batteries for the Iron Dome, which were made by Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense System and delivered the following year.

“For the past few weeks, the Texas-based troops and 110 members of Task Force Talon, part of the 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, based at Sagamihara, Japan, have trained 24-hours-a-day to defend the island from simulated air attacks, task force commander Maj. Kyle Hermanson told Stars and Stripes by phone Wednesday.”

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“During the simulation, which wrapped up this week, Iron Dome focused on defending against cruise missiles. A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery stationed on Guam since 2013 and a theoretical Patriot air defense battery defended against longer-range threats,” the report added.



Canada’s biggest labor union has rejected a motion to formally endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which has 700,000 members, voted by a margin of 68 to 32 percent opposing the measure at the organization’s biennial national convention, which was held online this year.

Resolution No. 70 had asked for CUPE to “support the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and their demands to end Israel’s military occupation and colonization.”

Pro-Israel and Jewish groups welcomed the outcome, with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs commenting: “BDS is an anti-Zionist, antisemitic movement that calls for the demonization and delegitimization of Israel and denies the Jewish people the universal right of self-determination.”

Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said: “CUPE members should be praised for standing up to the lies and intimidation of the BDS movement.”

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