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Israel’s Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman is out to reduce ‘captive audience’ parking fees at Israeli hospitals from 20 NIS ($5,26) a day to 14 NIS ($3.68)  per 24-hour period,* with the Ministry subsidizing the difference for the hospitals (30 M NIS or $7.9 M  in lost revenue annually).

            Not only that: There will be a ‘cap’ on captive audience: If someone’s relative is hospitalized for 14 days, ‘accompanying kin’ who often visit on a daily basis, sometimes almost ‘camping out’ at the hospital, will be entitled to an exemption from parking fees from Day 15 and immediate kin of patients expected to be hospitalized for 14 days or more, will be able to park for free from Day 1…a well deserved perk for such unofficial-but-essential caregivers who, in practice alleviate staffing shortages by their presence, particularly in the first 24-48 hours after surgery or in the case of seriously ill patients.** It turns out hospital administrators, such as  the head of the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Dr. Yitzhak Burlowitz, openly encourage-expect kin to ‘fill in the gaps’… (Israel HaYom, IBA – Mabat News) Photo credit:  Clalit Health Fund website – Soroka Hospital  


* the new arrangement will not apply to Ichilov in the heart of Tel-Aviv (or Rambam in Haifa) where such cut-rate parking fees would attract every one of the 250,000 motorists entering the Big Orange daily…


** In practice, Israel has always had such “family-centered care” (now being promoted, but still met with resistance by hospital staff in the USA). In the past, attempts to impose ‘visiting hours’ were often a lost cause (merely prompting Israeli kin to sneak in via first-floor windows or another ploy when visiting was prohibited…) Lax visiting hours in Israeli hospital culture (if they exist at all) reflect Israel’s overall family-friendly culture (look at the IDF’s relationship with parents’ of draftees, not just doctors!) and the role in the ‘healing process’ families from certain ethnic communities have always expected/demanded to play - arriving in droves, with home-cooked food, staying for hours, all this against the backdrop of an Israeli predilection for practicality-over-form. For Israelis, such a win-win solution to staff shortages is a no-brainer.  




Up until now, testing the ripeness of watermelons has hinged on folklore - slapping the side of a watermelon and listening to the resonance for the ‘right’ hollow thump.

            Of course in Israel, where no one wants to be a frier or sucker, ‘there is a foolproof method: al HaSakeen (‘on the knifepoint’): The vendor at a roadside stand will cut a small square ‘plug’ out of the watermelon and lift it out ‘on the knifepoint’ to show the customer that the fruit is firm and red. While this takes the guesswork out of the equation, the downside is the ‘wounded’ watermelon (the ripest will spontaneously crack open in the process) must be carefully transported home ‘as is’ in a thin plastic bag* and placed immediately in the frig…

            Now, finally, three Technion students - Salach Abed el-Halim (23), Eeman Sarhan (23) and Adam Gara (22) - from the computer science department have developed a smartphone app that grades ripe watermelons on ‘looks’ alone, based on pattern recognition of external texture (shade, stripes, the shade of its round dry patch) taken by smartphone. Turns out such patterns on the skin go more than skin deep…despite claims to the contrary among agricultural engineers. When the input is correlated with weight and circumference,** the app can accurately predict the sweetness and firmness of a watermelon on a one-to-five scale in 40 seconds flat.  


* In this case, it’s luckily that Israeli supermarkets don’t bag groceries in paper bags, but rather in small flimsy but durable transparent plastic satchels that due to their shape are called in Hebrew ‘undershirt bags’ (sakiyot goofiyah)


** taken in an ‘evaluation bin’ equipped with sensors




According to a recent report, 7,000 deaths in the United States out of 44,000 preventable deaths due to “medical errors” are attributable to doctors’ sloppy handwriting.*  Yet, a penchant for illegible writing is also the province of traffic cops, it seems. 

            Crossing an intersection, Iyal Pardes got stopped and ticketed for a moving violation. OK, it happens, right? 

            But when the motorist got home, he realized he couldn’t read a single word of the charge, not even the violation code. Posting the 500 NIS ($132) fine on his Facebook page, Pardes challenged the police chief to do so…if he could. If Police Chief Roni Elsheikh could tell him what he was accused of, wagered Pardes, he himself would double the fine.

            After the post went viral (an illegible tickets was not a one-time glitch, it seems), the head of the Traffic Division called Pardes personally to inform him that he couldn’t decider the ticket either and was squashing the fine. Photo credit:  Bing –


* Thankfully, Israeli physicians key-in their notations on patients’ computerized records (or have an assistant present who does so), and doctors issue print-outs of referrals and prescriptions, not hand-written Rxs…



Penguins are normally monogamous, but Peleg the 10 year-old ‘spinster’ among the African Penguins at the Ramat Gan Safari was forced to sit on her egg all by herself, instead of sharing the chore with her mating partner Nelson…whom, it just so happened, was already paired up with another female penguin named Mitch when Peleg - perhaps worried her biological clock was ticking* - began ‘advertising her wares’ to Nelson. 

            When Peleg laid an egg, Nelson got cold feet and the two-timer returned to his long-time spouse as if nothing had happened.

            Luckily a four year-old bachelor named Blutie waddled forward to serve as prospective stepfather. While the two - Peleg and Blutie - took turns sitting on the egg, it failed to hatch, but it did incubate a match…or a mishap: After Peleg and Blutie laid another egg, Peleg (whom handlers surmise “suffered from a unique form of postpartum blues”) ‘pulled a Nelson’…leaving Blutie to sit on the egg alone. Alas, by the time the egg hatched, Blutie was ‘totaled’ and the chick didn’t survive for long.

            Now four years later, the two have patched things up and are again a couple. This time Peled shared the burden of hatching the egg with her mate Blutie. 

            And they lived happily every after?

            Afraid not. Their two-week old chick didn’t survive. Can the relationship?

            I guess time will tell. (Yediot) Photo credit:  Ramat Gan Safari


* Wikipedia says while African penguins in captivity can live thirty years, females remain fertile for ten years.  They reach sexual maturity at age four.  Do the math.




If you thought the Palestinian Authority claiming Israelis poison5 the wells of Palestinians was audacious, if you thought Israelis harvest organs from Palestinians killed attempting to murder Israeli Jews was the height of chutzpa, here’s another one*: 

            The Palestinian Authority placed an item before UNESCO claims that Israelis are uprooting Muslim graves and planting Jewish ones in their place to ‘judaize’ Jerusalem.  (Israel HaYomPhoto credit:  Pinocchio – Wikipedia commons.


Not enough? In a medical first, Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki declared a former prisoner released from an Israeli prison three years ago was a Muslim shahid (martyr), claiming the convicted murderer had been “injected with muscular dystrophy” in an Israeli jail under the guise of administering a pain-killer before he received dental work… The honor is apparently related to the acute ‘shortage’ of martyrs - the number of attempted knifings having dropped to a dozen a month or less, compared to over 600 terrorist incidents at the height of the Jihadi Wave of 2015-16…)