(March 31, 2020 / Israel Hayom) There has been a consistent decline in the rate of coronavirus infections in Israel since last week, with infections now doubling at a rate of once every eight days compared to once every three.
Professor Gabi Barabash, former director of the Israeli Health Ministry and of the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, told Channel 12 News that as this decline has been observed over a three-day period, it could, hopefully, indicate a trend.
“If the numbers continue looking like this, they [the government] could reconsider the lockdown after Passover,” he said.
As of Tuesday morning, there were 4,831 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel. Eighty-three patients are in serious condition and 66 of them are in need of respiratory support. Seventeen people have died, and 163 have made a full recovery.
Still, Barabash noted that infection rates could spike again unless certain sectors of Israeli society, and particularly the ultra-Orthodox sector, understand the importance of observing the Health Ministry’s directives.
The disregard of some in the ultra-Orthodox community for the Health Ministry’s directives is so severe that Health Minister Yaakov Litzman—head of the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party—has asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to impose a quarantine on the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, one of the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus.
On Monday, Netanyahu himself went into self-quarantine after a parliamentary aide tested positive for the virus. The prime minister later tested negative for COVID-19.
In a televised address issued prior to receiving his test result, Netanyahu said that “this evening I am speaking to you from the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. Even though my medical tests have still not concluded, I have decided to enter into voluntary quarantine in order to set a personal example. The cameraman is six meters away.”
He added: “I am continuing to work from home.”
“I must say that most of you are adhering to Health Ministry directives, [and] I thank you for that. But we have still not reached the desired point. There are individuals—and more than this, there are certain groups in the country which are pointedly ignoring, and are even showing contempt for, the clear directives that have been published,” he said.
The prime minister stressed that the “vast majority” of the public, including the ultra-Orthodox, were following the directives, but that the minority that wasn’t was putting everyone in danger.
“The vast majority is disciplined, in the ultra-Orthodox public, the secular public, the Jewish and the non-Jewish public—but the undisciplined minority is endangering the majority,” said Netanyahu. “It is endangering both itself and the majority together. This is unabashed lawlessness.”
“Therefore,” he concluded, “I have ordered the security forces to prepare to step up enforcement in neighborhoods and communities in which there are such violations and in which there are events that endanger the lives of all of us. We will prevent extremist elements from harming public health, and we will prosecute whoever attacks police, health and military forces, who are trying to carry out their mission on behalf of all of us,” concluded Netanyahu.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
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.