Israel moves fast to combat outbreak; Knesset faces shutdown: Israel Update
March 20, 2020
Israel’s Health Ministry has confirmed 705 cases of coronavirus. While most of the infected individuals have mild symptoms, 10 patients are in serious condition,18 are in fair condition, and 15 have fully recovered. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a national state of emergency and added new restrictions and enforcement tools to halt the spread of the virus. These restrictions are designed to prevent Israelis from leaving their homes unless “absolutely necessary,” and can be enforced through fines. All essential services will remain open, including supermarkets, pharmacies, and a majority of medical services. In addition, while Israelis are encouraged to work from home, employees who must travel to work will be permitted to do so. The Israeli Employment Service published a report on Friday morning showing that more than 450,000 people have registered for unemployment since the beginning of the month, with roughly 6,000 newly unemployed applying every hour.
The Israeli government is concerned about the lack of adherence to new COVID-19 restrictions among certain segments of society—specifically the Haredi and the Arabs. The Health Ministry has run special campaigns—targeting those groups—in an attempt to convince them to abide by the restrictions. Haredi and Arab leaders have met with ministry officials and on Friday morning, Israel Police set up blockades around the Temple Mount to control the number of worshipers going to the al-Aqsa Mosque. On the other hand, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have set up a joint operations room to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the West Bank.