The Israeli government has reimposed sweeping restrictions in response to a surge in coronavirus cases, while public anger grows over how the crisis has been handled. Starting today, the government will shut down gyms and exercise studios, with increased restaurant limitations taking effect this coming Tuesday after mass uproar. During weekends—stores, beauty salons, museums, and tourist attractions will all be closed. Later this month, beaches will be closed during weekends, as well. "We are making every effort to avoid a general lockdown,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a Thursday cabinet meeting. Since the start of the pandemic, Israel has reported more than 44,000 coronavirus cases and 378 deaths. With unemployment at roughly 21%, Netanyahu announced plans earlier this week to provide additional financial aid packages for “all citizens”, though the proposal has yet be approved by the government. The plans are facing resistance for not clearly distinguishing between citizens in need and citizens who are well-off.
Thousands protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—angered by what they view as the government's inept response to the economic hardship induced by COVID-19. Wednesday morning clashes with police—in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem—resulted in 50 people being detained by authorities. These protests against Netanyahu began last weekend, where apparent harsh police responses occurred, including the use of water cannons to clear away protesters peacefully sitting on the ground. Public Security Minister Amir Ohana vowed to reduce police violence against protesters, but also labeled recent protests "violent," and suggested the protests were encouraged by opposition MKs, specifically Yesh Atid MK Idan Roll. The protests outside Netanyahu's residence have persisted through Thursday and into Friday, and appear to be growing.
Israel is said to be drawing up a list of its military and intelligence officials who might be subject to arrest abroad, if the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague opens an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories. Reports indicate that the list includes between 200 and 300 officials, some of whom have not been informed they are on it. The ICC is expected to rule soon on whether it will investigate Israel and Hamas over suspicions of war crimes in the territories, beginning in 2014, the year of Operation Protective Edge. Experts in international law believe that officials and decision-makers involved in the 2014 incidents—beginning with the war in Gaza—would be first in line to face the court’s scrutiny.
The safety, health, and well-being of all community members is a priority for the Jewish Federation. Like many of you, we are closely monitoring the evolution of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This page has been developed to help our community stay informed and provide the resources needed to maintain a sense of connection. As more resources are curated, this page will be continually updated.
Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC
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