Israel Briefs: Former 76ers Star Joins Forces with Sheba Medical Center, Israel Resumes Diplomatic Relations with Chad and More

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Former 76ers Star Dikembe Mutombo Joins Forces with Sheba Medical Center

NBA All-Star and former 76ers center Dikembe Mutombo visited Sheba Medical Center, Tel HaShomer in Ramat Gan on Nov. 29 as a collaboration was announced to join the hospital’s global humanitarian goals with Mutombo’s efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the hospital said.

Mutombo met with Sheba’s leadership to discuss the partnership, then toured The Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital and The Edmond J. Safra International Congenital Heart Center. He visited with sick children and gave away signed basketballs.

Mutombo was behind the funding and creation of the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in 2007, a modern medical facility built in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa. About 25 percent of the 7.5 million residents live in poverty in Mutombo’s hometown.

Sheba’s Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response sends doctors across the world to offer emergency help.

Israel to Resume Diplomatic Relations with Chad

Nearly 50 years after diplomatic relations were severed, Israel and Chad will resume relations, according to JTA.

Chad President Idriss Deby completed a three-day visit to Israel on Nov. 27 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will visit the Muslim African nation “soon.”

“The leaders discussed common threats and the fight against terrorism, as well as increasing bilateral cooperation in — inter alia — agriculture, counterterrorism, border defense, technology, solar energy, water and health,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Ties were severed in 1972.

“The relations between our countries were cut in 1972 for specific historic reasons, but our special relations continued all the time,” Deby said on Nov. 25. “The current visit to your beautiful country expresses our desire to take the relations that existed all the time and make them stronger.”

Measles Contracted by 2,000 Israelis in 2018

More than 2,000 Israelis — including a three-week-old baby that was hospitalized — contracted measles in 2018, according to JTA.

In response, the Knesset is considering legislation that would punish parents who don’t vaccinate their children. It unanimously approved a bill that would eliminate tax credits and welfare benefits for parents who won’t vaccinate their children. It also would prohibit unvaccinated children and teachers from entering schools during an outbreak.

An 18-month-old girl died in a Jerusalem hospital earlier in November after contracting measles from her unvaccinated, infected parents.

JTA said the measles outbreak has been blamed on an outbreak in the haredi Orthodox community in Rockland, N.Y., with unvaccinated residents visiting Israel.

Diverted El Al Flight Passengers to be Compensated

Passengers on an El Al flight that was diverted to enable Sabbath-observant passengers to disembark will receive a free round-trip ticket to the European city of their choosing, JTA reported.

The Nov. 15 flight left New York more than five hours late and was diverted from Tel Aviv to Athens. Shabbat observers got off the plane and spent the Sabbath in a hotel, while the rest of the passengers got on an Israir plane and headed to Tel Aviv. There were varying and disputed reports that both religious and non-religious passengers were violent toward the flight crew.

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