A senior Israeli defense official warned on Sunday that the government may for the first time in the country’s history impose a nationwide 24-hour curfew during memorial day next week to prevent a major coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Yom Hazikaron, the Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism, begins next Monday evening (April 27) and ends the following evening.

Usually, people gather at graves of fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism during Memorial Day eve and on the day itself, either spontaneously or during official state ceremonies.

The official said that even though no public events were planned this year, there is a fear that gatherings may take place nonetheless, leading to a spike in community spread of the coronavirus, undermining the lockdown measures that have been in place for the past month to fight the pandemic.

“This is a very delicate subject because of the various emotional matters involved; this is perhaps the most sensitive issue in Israeli society,” the official said, adding that “Defense Minister Naftali Bennett will make a decision after considering all aspects; we have to accommodate the bereaved families, but also take into account public-health concerns.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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