The Jerusalem Post

Kohavi flying to Washington for talks on Iran, Gaza


IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi will fly to Washington on Saturday evening, after a one-month delay, to discuss the Iranian threat and other regional challenges.

During his trip, which will be his first as Israel’s top military officer, he is expected to meet with his US counterpar­ts in an attempt to persuade them not to reenter the Iranian nuclear deal.

Kohavi is expected to meet with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, head of US Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie and head of US Special Operations Command Gen. Richard D. Clarke.

Kohavi intends to discuss the deteriorat­ing situation in Lebanon, Iranian entrenchme­nt in Syria and Operation Guardian of the Walls, which led him to postpone his trip in May.

It will be the first trip by an Israeli official with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leading the government. Kohavi will meet with Bennett ahead of his trip. They worked closely together during Bennett’s time as defense minister, and both are considered to be hawks on the Iranian issue.

Two weeks ago, Defense Minister Benny Gantz flew to Washington and met with the same officials to discuss the same topics. At the meetings, he spoke about the need to change policy in the Gaza

Strip, the need to strengthen the alliance of moderates and the Palestinia­n Authority and the issue of returning the fallen soldiers and citizens held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip as a moral and humanitari­an value.

Gantz also spoke about the need to increase supervisio­n of Iran and stop its regional aggression, adding that Israel would have to prepare a military option.

Prior to his meeting with Austin, Gantz stressed the need to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Stopping Iran “is certainly a shared strategic need of the United States, Europe, the countries in the Middle East and Israel, and for the people of Iran as well,” he said, adding that “of course, given the scope of the threat, Israel must always make sure that it has the ability to protect itself.”

As of Tuesday, the Health Ministry canceled the requiremen­t to wear masks indoors. The few exceptions are medical facilities and nursing homes, individual­s on their way to their location of quarantine and flight passengers.

But while masks are no longer mandatory, are there still situations where it is advisable to wear them? Prof. Nadav Davidovitc­h, director of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s School of Public Health, and Prof. Cyrille Cohen, head of Bar-Ilan University’s immunother­apy laboratory, offered their opinions.

Should vulnerable individual­s continue to wear masks?

According to the experts, vulnerable individual­s should continue to wear masks indoors and in crowded situations.

“While the masks are primarily intended to protect others from getting infected, they also offer protection to those who wear them, especially against infection that primarily circulates through droplets,” Cohen said. “For those who have a weakened immune system, it can be good to have an extra layer of protection, even if they are vaccinated, because the vaccine is not 100% effective, especially for these population­s.”

This is especially true indoors, and it probably is going to be more relevant in the winter, he said.

Davidovitc­h said: “I believe that for people who are immunocomp­romised or elderly, it is a good idea to continue to wear a mask in crowded situations, regardless of COVID, because we see how effective they are in offering protection from various diseases.”

What about children in schools?

“If someone feels that they want to have an additional level of protection for their children, they can, but it is not required,” Davidovitc­h said, adding that masks also carry a price in terms of environmen­tal sustainabi­lity and that they hide people’s faces, among other issues.

Cohen said: “At this stage, with such a low circulatio­n of the virus in the country, I do not recommend for children to wear masks in schools, even though we have to remember that infections can happen, and they can transmit the virus to each other.”

And pregnant women?

“I would say pregnant women should continue to wear masks only if they are not vaccinated,” Cohen said. “If they are vaccinated, they should already be protected enough.”

Are there other situations where it is advisable to wear masks?

According to Davidovitc­h, if someone is sick with a cold, the flu or something similar, they should remain at home if possible. But if they need to go out, they should wear a mask. This is true also for people who believe they might be infected with the coronaviru­s but are not sure (once they are, they are required to enter isolation).

Should everyone continue to carry a mask with them in case they find themselves in a very crowded situation?

“Yes!” Cohen said. “I will continue to carry a mask in my pocket. I think it gives me a sense of security also psychologi­cally. Especially when the winter comes again, I think it will become a habit for many, like it happens in certain Asian countries.”

(Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post) ??
AVIV KOHAVI (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

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