Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared a night clock for some 40 cities and towns that have been badly affected by the corona virus.
He backed down from reported calls for full lockdown following an uproar by powerful religious politicians.
The measures were announced late on Sunday after hours of consultation with decision-makers.
Benny Gantz (right), Israel’s deputy prime minister and defense minister, made a statement outside Bnei Barak’s town hall on Sunday about a lockdown following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government has been forced to take new measures after failing to contain an outbreak.
The country passed the milestone of 1,000 new coronavirus deaths this weekend after the toll tripled this summer, sparking regular protests against Netanyahu’s management of the health crisis and related economic downturn.
According to national media reports, Israeli hospitals are being overwhelmed by the increasing number of Covid-19 patients in severe condition.
There are fears that the health care system will come under further pressure if the pandemic continues to escalate in the winter months.
Curfew begins at 7:00 PM on Monday and runs until 5:00 AM. It was not known how long they will remain in effect.
The government’s ministerial coronavirus commission has decided to impose “ an overnight shutdown ” on 40 cities and towns with the highest infection rates, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
He said ‘educational institutions’ would be closed, with the exception of centers for special education, and meetings limited to 10 people in closed spaces and 20 outside.
“I know these restrictions are not easy, but in the current situation there is no way to avoid them,” Netanyahu said of the restrictions taking effect Monday.
It comes after a protest by ultra-Orthodox Jews who claimed their communities were disproportionately targeted.
“ I know these restrictions are not easy, but in the current situation there is no way to avoid them, ” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the restrictions starting Monday (File image)
Ronni Gamzu, who was appointed coordinator of the national coronavirus project, particularly emphasized the need for vigilance in ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities, where he said the number of cases was remarkably high.
Mayors of four major ultra-Orthodox cities expressed outrage at the intention to lock up their cities in a hard-worded letter to Netanyahu, saying they will not cooperate with the authorities.
In an effort to calm their anger, Netanyahu denied discriminating against their cities.
“A ‘red’ city is not identified as such out of malice or arbitrary, but is designated based on scientific data – the number of sick people, the rate of infection,” he said in a video.
‘At the moment the focus is on Arab and ultra-Orthodox regions.’
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on Sunday called for sweeping lockdown measures, saying on public radio that “at 3,000 cases a day, there are no ‘green’ cities.”
“ There is nothing for it but to close everything, it is better to lock the whole country for two weeks and become a ‘green’ country again than to stay in the red for months, ” he added.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish children wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic as they gather Sunday in Bnei Brak, Israel.
As part of efforts to manage the public health crisis, the government divided the country’s cities and towns into four color-coded categories – green, yellow, orange, and red – based on infection rates.
Other key figures in Netanyahu’s unity government fear the economic consequences of the entire country being locked up.
In addition, the government could be under pressure not to impose nationwide restrictions on the ultra-Orthodox community.
It opposes measures that would close places of worship ahead of the Jewish festivals of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur later in September.
Chairs installed in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to symbolize the 1,000 coronavirus deaths in Israel
On Monday, a thousand chairs were placed on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv that symbolize those who died from the corona virus
A woman takes a picture of the chairs in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. The dead were also commemorated by Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s best-selling daily newspaper, which covered the front page with the names of the victims
Israel passed the milestone of 1,000 new deaths from the coronavirus over the weekend after the toll tripled this summer.
The coronavirus has now claimed the lives of 1,000 people in the country. The dead were commemorated by Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s top-selling daily newspaper, which covered the front page with the names of the victims, calling the ‘disgraceful failure of managing the crisis since May’.
On Monday, a thousand chairs were placed on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv that symbolize those who died from the corona virus.