Photo: Flash90

Nationwide Israeli lockdown on Passover

Israel’s mortality rate from the coronavirus rose by 8 in the last 24 hours, bringing the number of deaths to 60. There has also been a steady rise of confirmed infections to 9,006, of whom 153 have been diagnosed in critical condition. 683 Israelis recovered from COVID-19, reflecting a leap of 100 individuals.

Every possible action to limit the outbreak is being taken by Israeli authorities. Police are increasing attempts to educate the public about the disease, while also stepping up enforcement of government restrictions with the imposition of fines and even the detention of insubordinate civilians.

Among several other incidents, police units were dispatched to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim in the capital, where a confirmed coronavirus carrier was successfully tracked and apprehended after a tip was received by the Jerusalem District Hotline. Superintendent Bader Monier reported that the patient was “suspected of escaping isolation in Netanya” and was found “hiding” in an area home. Superintendent Monier added that the suspect was located “with the assistance of the special unit for the treatment of ultra-Orthodox Jews,” and that he would be sent back to Netanya after receiving necessary treatment by Israel’s Magen David Adom paramedical service.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a series of new government measures ahead of the Biblical holiday of Passover. Speaking in a televised address to the nation, the Israeli leader asserted that the week-long festival would be “critical” for “the world and for the State of Israel” due to the “battle to block the coronavirus” during which “these days will determine the direction – progress or retreat, and for many people, life or death.”

Netanyahu insisted that while the situation of the Jewish state is far better than other countries around the globe, “thanks to the systematic steps that we have taken and that we are taking, simply put, the trend is improving.” After stating, “This once-in-a-century wild storm is claiming victims around the world, from all peoples without distinction, and is rocking the economies of many countries,” he insisted that Israel must not be complacent. “But whoever thinks that it is possible to end the corona crisis just like that is sorely mistaken. Our ancestral wisdom teaches that there is a short way that is long, and a long way that is short. When it comes to your health and your lives, citizens of Israel, there can be no shortcuts,” said Netanyahu.

The Israeli premier went on to stress that public disregard of the government restrictions during last month’s celebration of the Purim holiday that lead to a major COVID-19 outbreak must absolutely not be repeated during Passover, which begins tomorrow night at sundown. “I will say it here as clearly as possible: Passover will not be Purim,” he insisted.

“Every family will have the Passover seder on its own” attended “only with the immediate family members who are now with you at home,” he ordered, referring to the festive opening feast. “On Wednesday, before the Passover seder, everyone will stay at home from 6 PM until 07:00 AM on Thursday (9 April). I know that this is very onerous but there is simply no choice. We will strictly enforce the lockdown.“

He continued that “Out of a deep responsibility for the public welfare,” a general nationwide lockdown would be imposed.” According to the new measures which were ratified by the cabinet’s special ministerial committee this afternoon, a nationwide lockdown was ordered to begin 7 PM this evening. The general lockdown effectively forces Israeli to remain within their respective neighborhoods amid a nightly curfew until the conclusion of the opening days of Passover on Friday morning.

And while the government ratcheted-up its nationwide restrictions, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced “that there are positive signs on the horizon” and “a real possibility that if the positive trends in Israel continue, we will gradually exit the lockdown after Passover and Mimouna,” the latter of which is a traditional North African Jewish celebratory feast held immediately after Passover from sundown-to-sundown 15-16 April. “First and foremost, citizens of Israel, it depends on you,” underscored the Israeli Premier, stressing that “It depends on the degree to which you adhere to the hard instructions that we are issuing to you for the benefit of all.”

Netanyahu also revealed that he held a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin last night, during which the two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation between Moscow and Jerusalem in the battle against the corona contagion. He added that Putin “commended” him on the steps Israel has taken against the disease.