Netanyahu backs police in breakup of large haredi wedding, says corona scofflaws commit ‘bloodshed’

Cops raid wedding attended by hundreds in predominantly ultra-Orthodox city where the positive corona infection test rate is a whopping 20%.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A force of police officers broke up a large ultra-Orthodox wedding Monday night where hundreds had gathered at a synagogue in the city of Bnei Brak despite coronavirus health guidelines banning large gatherings.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backed the police, calling on all Israelis to stop violating the lockdown restrictions as the national death toll from the pandemic rose to to 4,060 – a jump of 356 deaths in the past week, the highest weekly death count yet.

“I expect from all of you to put life first and support the right decision,” Netanyahu tweeted. “I call on all citizens, even those who attended yesterday’s scandalous wedding in Bnei Brak, to stop breaking the law. It’s bloodshed. I call on the police to take an iron fist against all who violate the law wherever they are.”

The chairman of the religious Shas Party, Aryeh Deri, said the images from the mass wedding “are an unparalleled great and grave desecration of God’s name.”

“I shout and call on anyone who can lend a hand in stopping such events and gatherings, including heads of authorities and public leaders,” Deri pleaded to his fellow Orthodox Jews. “Please, spare your lives and stop the severe harm to the entire ultra-Orthodox public. This is not our way.”

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The loud music, which was heard throughout the area, led to several reports to the police about the event, with dozens of officers showing up about an hour later to disperse the participants. As they entered the building they were met with cries of “Nazis” and “Get out of here” by locals, Ynet reported.

A video posted on social media showed at least one large bag of garbage being dropped on police from a balcony over the entrance to the yeshiva where the synagogue is located.

“When the forces arrived, they ordered those present to leave the place, recorded a number of fines in the amount of 5,000 shekels ($1,500) for those in charge of the event, and the organizer will be summoned for a criminal investigation on suspicion of spreading an illness,” police said in a statement released on social media.

New coronavirus lockdown restrictions that went into effect on Jan. 7 limit indoor gatherings to a maximum of five people only, but many sectors of the ultra-Orthodox community have ignored the health restrictions in direct violation of the guidelines as coronavirus infections continue to soar – especially in ultra-Orthodox communities.

“It is impossible not to celebrate a wedding,” one man told Ynet. “We only listen to the rabbis who allowed this event to take place.”

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Except for Jerusalem, Bnei Brak has the highest number of active coronavirus patients in the country, with 4,844 currently sick with the virus and a positive test rate in the city of 20% – meaning one in every five residents of the city who is tested is found to be sick.

As Israel’s morbidity level continued to soar despite the lockdown, the cabinet is scheduled to convene Wednesday to discuss extending the nation’s third national lockdown by as much as two more weeks and include a shutdown of Ben Gurion International Airport except for cargo and essential flights.