Ramat Gan residents pester mayor for separation wall around Bnei Brak

Bnei Brak has the highest coronavirus cases per capita with a rate of roughly 2.5 persons per 1,000.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

As an alarming concentration of coronavirus cases in the city of Bnei Brak is being reported, the residents of the adjoining city of Ramat Gan are urging their mayor to build a “separation wall” to protect themselves from contagion.

Ramat Gan Mayor Carmel Shama HaCohen took to Facebook on Saturday to ask his city’s residents to stop pestering him about it.

“The authority to close an area in a neighborhood or a city lies in the hands of the army and police only. There is no point in endlessly demanding to build a wall or separation fence near Bnei Brak. We do not have the authority nor, obviously, the time to build a wall,” Hacohen wrote.

“The numbers in Bnei Brak are well known to decision-makers, and I will make a request for an investigation into whether the spread of coronavirus into Ramat Gan shows signs of having been caused by the outbreak in the neighboring city,” he added. Ramat Gan is adjacent to Bnei Brak. Both towns are directly east of Tel Aviv.

Bnei Brak’s mayor warned that cordoning off his city is akin to making a “ghetto.”

On Tuesday, Israel’s Health Ministry announced that Bnei Brak has the most coronavirus cases per capita, with a rate of roughly 2.5 persons per 1,000.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, there are 198,863 residents currently living in the predominantly haredi city. Haredim, or ultra-Orthodox Jews, were slow to adjust to the growing pandemic, gathering in synagogues despite the risk of spreading the virus.

Their leaders blame the government for failing to reach them through suitable channels. Haredi Jews rarely own televisions or even smartphones.

In an effort to curb the spread, numerous police checkpoints on Tuesday were set up around Bnei Brak to turn away non-residents from entering the city.

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov told Channel 12 News yesterday that he had spoken to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the dangerous situation.

“It requires intense involvement by the Home Front Command and the police — I believe we will see progress on the matter during the course of the day,” he said.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman refuted recent reports accusing Bnei Brak’s residents of ignoring the State’s coronavirus rules.

“You cannot accuse an entire public of the actions of several rogue groups here and there,” Litzman said on Tuesday. “Ninety-nine percent of the public listen to the State and the rabbis.”