Netanyahu demands ‘full lockdown immediately’ and gets it, beginning Thursday

The new lockdown will begin on Thursday night and will last two weeks.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

After hours of debate, Israel’s cabinet agreed on Tuesday evening to implement a full lockdown to counter skyrocketing pandemic numbers following a governmental meeting in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for such a measure.

“We are in the midst of a global pandemic that is spreading at top speed with the British mutation. It has reached Israel and is claiming many lives,” Netanyahu said.

“We need to impose a full lockdown immediately. We are in a cabinet meeting and I have no doubt that the cabinet will approve this and that the Knesset needs to pass it immediately,” he said. “This is the saving of lives, nothing less.”

The new lockdown will begin on Thursday night and will last two weeks.

Israel is currently under a lockdown, but it has been criticized as too loose and as a result ineffective. On Monday, 8,308 Israelis were diagnosed with the virus. It’s the highest number of daily cases since Sept. 30, 2020, when 9,065 cases were reported.

The main difference between this lockdown and the current one is that educational institutions will be closed, outside of special needs and at-risk youth. The new lockdown will continue certain restrictions from the current one, i.e. residents can’t depart more than 1 kilometer from their homes.

Other restrictions include:

  • All professional sporting events will be canceled.
  • Only absolutely essential workplaces will be open.
  • All trade closed, outside of those deemed essential.
  • Public transportation will operate at 50%.
  • Gatherings are forbidden outside of 5 people indoors, 10 people outdoors.
  • No meetings in homes outside one’s own.

The Knesset will need to pass the recommendations in order for the lockdown to go into effect.

For those who wish to see the lockdown implemented, there are some worrying signs. Protests apparently are not included among restricted activities.

Interior Minister Amir Ohana called for a ban on protests during the meeting. Defense Minister Benny Gantz disagreed: “I think we should not demonstrate at this time, but we should not ban it.” It doesn’t appear from reports that a decision was reached.

Months-long protests against Netanyahu that take place in front of his official residence, usually on weekends and numbering in the hundreds and even more, and which enjoy the protection of anti-Netanyahu politicians who wish to see them continue, have been an ongoing sore point in the government’s efforts to control the pandemic.

Aside from the danger for spreading the contagion itself, the protests have had a knock-on effect, discouraging other sectors of the public from obeying lockdown restrictions, pointing to the protests as evidence that there’s a double-standard at play.

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The lockdown is taking place despite what is universally agreed has been a stellar rollout of the vaccination effort. Israel is ranked No. 1 in the world in vaccinations. Most of its at-risk population has received the first dose of the vaccine and 1/10th of its total population.