Israel deploys 6,000 police to enforce coronavirus lockdown

Six thousand police will enforce Israel’s third lockdown with an emphasis on cracking down on gatherings, especially New Year’s parties.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s national police force said it was deploying 6,000 officers to enforce a third national lockdown beginning Sunday evening in a bid to block the rising coronavirus infection rate, Kan News reported.

The closure includes travel restrictions to keep Israelis within one kilometer (0.6 miles) of their homes. Police said one of their main enforcement targets is to prevent gatherings, especially New Year’s Eve parties on Thursday night.

Police said they learned from the previous two lockdowns that spot road blocks are more effective than fixed positions and so police vehicles will check drivers randomly on the roads.

Health Ministry statistics released Sunday morning showed 2,630 new cases of coronavirus in the past day. The positive test rate is 4.1%. Coronavirus hospitalizations have soared over the 1,000 mark to 1,054 for the first time in months. More than half of them, 584, are listed in serious or critical condition. The death toll currently stands at 3,210.

Although the government imposed the closure for two weeks, Health Ministry officials said they expect the closure will last for a month in order to get the average weekly infections to under 1,000 per day.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said the number of coronavirus vaccinations that began a week ago are continuing to increase daily.

“We are finishing the first week of vaccinations with the unbelievable number of 280,000 vaccinated, 71,000 of them this past weekend,” Edelstein said.

Officials in Edelstein’s own ministry warned that the decision to leave the school system partially open would lengthen the lockdown time, and some education officials criticized the decision as an endangerment to teachers as well as students.

In response, Edelstein asked Health Minister director general Prof. Hezi Levy to see if teaching staff could start getting vaccinations as early as this week.

Health officials said that as of Monday there will be 150 vaccination stations open around the country with an additional 80 opening Tuesday in a bid to reach 100,000 vaccinations or more daily.

Edelstein said last week he wants the coronavirus vaccinations to be offered around the clock seven days a week in order to meet the demand and reach the goal of immunizing all of Israel’s over 60 and at-risk population by the end of January.