Israeli death count passes 1,000: Corona czar ‘terrified’ of coming high holidays

Israel has ordered a lockdown on 31 cities, which is to begin on Monday, but a threatening letter from the haredim may change the plan.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Israel’s death count reached 1,010 over the weekend. Ultra-Orthodox, or haredi, Jews say they will never forgive Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for imposing a ‘selective’ lockdown on their cities, and corona czar Ronni Gamzu says he’s terrified of the ramifications of the upcoming Jewish holidays.

These stories made up Sunday’s headlines in Israel’s ongoing fight against the pandemic, and captured something of the complexity Israel faces in battling back the disease.

Last week, it was reported that Israel’s soaring coronavirus infection rate was the worst in the world. Based on statistics from Johns Hopkins University, Israel averaged 199.3 new infections per million people for the week, putting it past Brazil, Spain, the United States and France.

Israel has ordered a lockdown on 31 cities, which is to begin on Monday. The cities are divided into two categories. Those with the highest incidence of the disease – 10 cities – will have a full lockdown imposed with strict limitations on travel. The others will have a night lockdown only.

There will also be curfews in some neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the largely haredi city of Beit Shemesh.

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Most of the 31 cities are haredi or Arab. The haredim, who have felt unfairly treated from the start of the pandemic, are balking at the news. The deputy mayor of Bnei Brak, a haredi city on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, has warned that the closure will not be obeyed.

“The public will not be led like a herd, the public will not accept the closure, there will be rage erupting in the streets,” Deputy Mayor Gedaliah Ben Shimon said.

He expressed the views of the other haredi cities as the mayors of Bnei Brak, Beitar, Elad and Emanuel sent a letter to Netanyahu attacking him directly. “As the one who managed this crisis, you never bothered to hear our voice, understand the hardships or try to promote real initiatives to flatten the morbidity curve,” they wrote.

The letter may have an effect. Netanyahu, who counts the haredi vote as a key part of his governing coalition, pushed off a Sunday meeting of the Knesset committee that was to have declared a lockdown on the cities and met with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Construction and Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, members of haredi parties, Arutz7 reports.