Israel’s decision to re-impose a lockdown for at least three weeks triggered a mixture of anger and frustration among the population, as a second wave of new cases was recorded in the country.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a general closure in the country, from Friday, which coincides with the Jewish New Year, until the tenth of October, with the end of the celebration.
The Israelis had accepted without disappointment the first phase of closure in March and April, which coincided with the Jewish Passover holiday, but this time the resentment and anger are clear.
On Sunday, Israel became the first country among the countries experiencing a major outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, to re-impose a complete closure in an attempt to mitigate the consequences of a second wave of infections.
“The government has decided to impose a strict lockdown for a period of three weeks, which can be extended,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech.
Data compiled by Agence France-Presse shows that Israel has become the second largest country in the number of new cases relative to the population, after Bahrain, with which it will sign an agreement on Tuesday in Washington to normalize relations.
Since the end of August, with the reopening of schools and the holding of weddings, which sometimes included hundreds of invitees, the number of injuries has increased dramatically, reaching 156,823 cases and 1,126 deaths, while the population is nine million people.
Faced with this rise, the authorities imposed a curfew last week and decided to isolate a number of cities, especially in the areas of ultra-Orthodox Arabs and Jews, in the hope of curbing the spread of the epidemic, without this preventing the acceleration of infections.
Netanyahu said that this matter made hospitals and medical teams unable to absorb all cases.
On Monday, grocery stores did not witness any rush, as happened in the first phase of closure, but there are rumors about a shortage of available milk, according to what he said in a supermarket.
In the widely circulated “Maariv” newspaper, well-known journalist Ben Masbet wrote that he “finds no convincing explanation” to justify imposing the closure again.
With the Jewish New Year holiday approaching, the country witnessed a debate in which Israelis split between supporters of a partial closure and others who wanted it completely.
The government was not satisfied with declaring the complete closure, but decided to impose it over a period of three weeks, leading to the Jewish New Year holiday, especially since this period usually witnesses family gatherings and a massive turnout of synagogues.
Netanyahu stressed that “our goal is to curb the increase” in infections, using a data table to show the Israelis, thousands of whom demonstrated in recent weeks to protest the government’s management of the pandemic, that the country’s economy has suffered less than the economies of France, Germany and Britain as a result of Covid-19.
“I am well aware that these procedures impose a heavy price on us,” Netanyahu added.
“The holidays will not be as usual and we will certainly not be able to celebrate them with members of the extended family,” explaining that the prayers will be possible with only ten people indoors and 20 people outdoors.
Prior to this announcement, Housing Minister and radical Israeli leader Yaakov Litzman announced his resignation Sunday due to the government’s intention to impose a comprehensive two-week closure coinciding with the Jewish holidays.
Litzman, who was Minister of Health at the start of the pandemic before moving to housing, said that “necessary” measures could have been taken before.
“It is an injustice and neglect of hundreds of thousands of religious citizens,” Litzman said with regret, as they will not be able to pray in synagogues during the Hebrew New Year and Yom Kippur celebrations.
He added, “This decision to impose a complete closure will not allow synagogues to operate on holidays… contrary to what was explicitly agreed upon”.
The latter found himself in a critical position at the start of the health crisis in March.
At that point, Coronavirus cases were concentrated in Israel in cities and neighborhoods inhabited by a majority of ultra-Orthodox Jews, where the health measures issued by his ministry were not respected greatly.