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Media Summary

Jordan imposes indefinite curfew

Reuters reports that Jordan is to extend a curfew indefinitely and promised to deliver food and essential goods across the country to homes, reinforcing a tight lockdown to try to rein in the spread of the coronavirus.

The Telegraph reports that more than half a million Israelis have taken part in a “virtual protest” against Benjamin Netanyahu, as the prime minister faces accusations of using the coronavirus as a cynical excuse to strengthen his grip on power.

Reuters and the Associated Press report that Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the speaker of the parliament to hold a vote to replace him by tomorrow in a move that could weaken Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hold on power.

The Independent, the Associated Press and Reuters report that the regime in Damascus confirmed its first case of coronavirus on the weekend after denying for weeks that the global pandemic had spread to the country.

The Financial Times reports that Libya’s UN-backed government has accused a Syrian airline of exposing the war-torn country to coronavirus by flying mercenaries into the eastern city of Benghazi, controlled by the military leader General Khalifa Haftar. The Guardian reports that hundreds of refugees forced to leave a UN-run centre in Libya earlier this year, including survivors of the Tajoura detention centre bombing, are among those worried about being cut off from aid in the coronavirus outbreak.

Reuters and The Huffington Post report that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced a $1 billion cut in US aid to Afghanistan after he failed to convince Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political foe to end a feud that has jeopardised a US-led peace effort.

The Times reports that a former colleague of the veteran pro-Israeli militia leader spirited out of Lebanon by the United States last week, Amer Fakhoury, has been murdered in an apparent act of retaliation in Beirut.

The Telegraph reports that Egyptian security forces have detained and tortured hundreds of children in recent years, including electrocuting them on their tongues and genitals and making them stand on beds of nails, according to a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report.

In The Guardian, Michael Safi writes about his experiences under lockdown in Amman, Jordan, where videos have shown army Humvees patrolling Amman’s streets in a far harsher lockdown than elsewhere.

In The Guardian, Tarek Megerisi highlights why the “ignored war” in Libya will come back to haunt a blinkered West, as Europe seems unconcerned by the chaos smouldering on its doorstep despite the war’s use of unmanned drones and other technologies.

In The Times, Melanie Phillips argues Israel’s lockdown measures should act as a model for Britain’s, citing the use of “strong government and cyber technologies” as tools with which the public can be guided into “doing the right thing”.

In The Times, Anthony Loyd writes about the small Afghan town, Joy Lahor, which has “defeated the two superpowers of Russia and America” on the battlefield, giving the residents immense pride in sacrifices made by their elders.

In The Financial Times, Simeon Kerr and Andrew England assess the condition of the Gulf economies “rocked by coronavirus and the oil price war”, asserting government revenues are continuing to plummet as crude price sink and private sector jobs are cut.

In The Associated Press, Jon Gambrell argues the new coronavirus is a threat to all states across the Middle East, regardless of their recent economic fortunes, as the IMF now urges regional governments to offer temporary tax relief and cash transfers.

The Israeli media report that 1665 Israelis have tested positive for coronavirus  – including 31 that are in a serious condition and 49 that have recovered. The figure was an increase of 214 from Monday. One Israeli has died from the virus, although a 62-year old suffering from breathing problems died last night in Tel Aviv; he will be tested to ascertain whether it was due to coronavirus. The Health Ministry estimates that 10,000 Israelis have coronavirus but have not been diagnosed.

All the Israeli media report the government’s impending decision to further limit public and economic life in an effort to combat the coronavirus. The measures likely approved by the cabinet today will include: suspension of nearly all public transport; limiting outdoor excursions to essential grocery or medical purchases, vital jobs, and short (and geographically limited) sporting activity; and shutting all stores except groceries, delivery-only restaurants and pharmacies. “This is the closest thing to a lockdown. We are half a step away from  completely shutting down the economy,” Israel Hayom quoted one governmental source. The government is also considering putting all people over 65 years of age in mandatory isolation, although it is believed this measure will not be approved as of yet.

Israeli media report that in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the Israeli Air Force and United States military will begin a pre-planned aerial exercise over southern Israel today. According to the Israeli military, an increased level of F-35 fighter jet traffic will be felt. The exercise will, the military stressed, only be conducted in the air and no ground-level meetings will be held. The manoeuvres are due to end on Thursday.