The Israeli government is considering placing the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak under quarantine, Israeli Finance Ministry director general Shai Babad told the country’s parliament on Sunday.

With police reporting difficulty in enforcing lockdown directives in the city, which has an infection rate higher than the national average, Babad told the Knesset’s Special Committee on Dealing with the Coronavirus, “We are having more than a few problems with ultra-Orthodox society in areas like Bnei Brak.”

Babad made the comment hours after hundreds of residents gathered for the burial of Rabbi Tzvi Shenkar, with thousands reportedly attending a funeral procession just before. Videos show hundreds gathering in close proximity to one another, breaking social-distancing directives.

Several clashes between residents and police attempting to enforce the lockdown have taken place in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in recent weeks.

Last week, Israeli Health Ministry data showed that 24 percent of infections have occurred in synagogues, with the next most common places of infection being hotels (15 percent), restaurants (12 percent), supermarkets (7 percent), yeshivahs (5 percent) and medical clinics (5 percent). Educational institutions, senior facilities, day cares, mikvahs, election ballot stations, shopping malls, event halls and gyms all fell under 5 percent.

According to internal Health Ministry data published in Haaretz, infections in Bnei Brak are increasing eightfold every three days, compared to the twofold national average. In Jerusalem, which also has a high ultra-Orthodox population, the cases are quadrupling in the same time period.

The Knesset discussion of a potential full lockdown, said Babad, is centered on “how we could put a closure in place and isolate those areas,” referring to the ultra-Orthodox areas with high infection rates and non-compliance with government orders intended to decrease spread of the outbreak.

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.