A nighttime curfew was imposed on Tuesday evening on 40 “red” cities, towns and neighborhoods across Israel in an attempt to stem the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and possibly as a prelude to a full lockdown on the country.
The ministerial committee on declaring restricted zones on Tuesday approved the recommendation of the Health Ministry and Corona project director Prof. Ronni Gamzu to impose night curfews on areas with high morbidity from 19:00 until 5:00, for the coming week.
The education institutions in these areas were likewise closed, except for special education.
“The decision was made upon the conclusion of an orderly consultative process will all of the local authorities in which there is high morbidity, by senior Health Ministry officials and Gamzu,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated.
The majority of sites under curfew are either Arab or Ultra-Orthodox towns.
The measures were introduced after several postponements, and the initial restrictions introduced were scaled back significantly due to political pressure.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday visited the Municipality of Beit Shemesh, one of the cities placed under nighttime curfew.
“I am certain that we will successfully overcome the coronavirus. Together we will win. There are many problems and there are many more questions. There will be many more challenges. I ask that our directives be followed because that is the only way we will win the war. There is no other way,” he stated.
Experts warn that the current restrictions are not sufficient and that a full closure will be required to stem the spread of the virus, especially ahead of the Jewish High Holidays that will commence in two weeks.
Ultimately, the government has yet to decide on how to address the pandemic in a comprehensive and successful manner, and the various ministries are offering and promoting different, and at times, contradicting moves.
The latest idea on the table is to shut down the school system completely for the duration of the High Holidays for a period of about four weeks. The concept behind this proposal is that the school system serves as a hotbed for infections, and therefore should be closed so that students don’t bring the virus home and infect their extended families during the holiday celebrations.
The government is expected to discuss its moves on Thursday.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Health updated Tuesday evening that it documented 3,496 cases in the past 24 hours, one of the highest numbers of daily infections since the outbreak began.
According to the data, 458 patients are hospitalized in serious condition, of whom 138are on life support.
Of a total of 138,739 cases since the outbreak began, 107,003 have recovered and 1,040 Corona patients have died from the virus.
Israel has the highest morbidity rate per million citizens in the world.
The government on Monday requested yet another postponement of the hearing in which it is to explain why the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) flagship illegal outpost, Khan al Ahmar, has not yet been evacuated.
A High Court of Justice decision handed down in September 2018 gave the government the green light to evacuate the illegal structures built on state land within the municipal boundaries of the Jewish community of Kfar Adumim., south of Jerusalem.
The ruling, handed down in response to Regavim’s fifth petition against the illegal outpost, was the most recent in a string of petitions dating back to 2009, when Regavim first launched its legal battle to halt the PA’s land-grab in the E1 area.
The High Court rejected Regavim’s petition on the basis of the government’s declaration that it would be evacuating the illegal outpost “in the near future.”
In October 2018, only a short time before the court’s ruling, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced, in his opening remarks before a working-meeting of government, that “Khan al Ahmar will be evacuated, either consensually or non-consensually. It will not take many weeks; it will take much less than that.”
Months later, when the situation remained unchanged, Regavim once again petitioned the High Court – for the sixth time, requesting an order that would require the government to explain its failure to enforce the law and to carry out the High Court ruling within a stipulated timeframe.
The government was to have responded to this petition on the eve of the second round of national elections in 2019, and argued that the transitional government then in power was a caretaker government and that the state’s response should be submitted only after a government was seated. The extended political crisis prompted the High Court to allow an additional postponement.
Last week, the government once again requested a short extension, asking that it be allowed to submit its response by Monday, but on Monday, once again, the state’s representatives requested that the court postpone the hearing for another six months, pointing out that the current government was formed only four months ago. In its deposition, signed by Meir Ben Shabbat, Director of Israel’s National Security Council, the state explained that the new government was sworn in during a period of “unprecedented complexity and sensitivity, without parallel in our national history.”
“The new government began its tenure against the backdrop of a national effort to contend with the spread of the Coronavirus and the far-reaching ramifications of this effort for government resources that have been devoted entirely to this important national objective. Keeping in mind the particular constellation of Israel’s security and political situation, the respondents (the government) require additional time to enable our elected political leadership to fully examine the subject of this petition,” he claimed.
Supreme Court Justice Noam Solberg rejected Netanyahu’s request for an additional six-month continuance to submit a response in the Khan al Ahmar case, and treated the government to some particularly sharp criticism.
In his ruling, Solberg wrote that “the request to postpone this hearing is an embarrassment.”
Solberg noted that even after the High Court’s decision, “two years later – there is nothing new under the sun. Despite the fact that the state’s representatives have argued before this Court in the past that the execution of judgements, in this case, are a pressing, even urgent, matter, and despite the fact that this Court has allowed the state latitude, time and time again, in carrying out its decisions, nothing has changed: What was is what will be, and what has been done continues to be done.”
“The state maintains its prerogative to exercise its own judgment regarding priorities and policy formulation; precisely, for this reason, it must honor its own pronouncements and enable others to take these pronouncements seriously, and not render them null or vacant promises,” he added.
Solberg rejected the request for a continuance, explaining that “under the circumstances, and given the current time constraints” the hearing will take place in two months. The state is required to file its response to the petition by November 1.
The Regavim Movement stated it strongly objects to further postponement of the hearing.
“This petition was submitted half a year ago, and in the time that has passed, no progress whatsoever has been made to conduct any such examination,” said Attorneys Avi Segal and Yael Cinnamon. “It’s become standard practice – every time the deadline for submitting a response arrives, the government submits a request for a continuance based on any number of strange and convoluted excuses: transitional governments are unauthorized to respond to the petition, delays caused by the government’s preoccupation with the corona pandemic, and now – the government, sworn in over four months ago, has not yet had the opportunity to deal with the issue.”
“The Khan al Ahmar case long ago ceased to be an isolated case of a single illegal outpost. It has been an exemplar case of the way the state acts – or more precisely, how it fails to act – when faced with Palestinian Authority’s takeover of Area C,” adds Regavim’s spokesperson. “The government has violated its own commitment, reflected in the High Court of Justice’s ruling many long months ago. The time has come to put a stop to this inexcusable conduct. We call upon the High Court to issue a final judgment in this case, requiring the government to raze this illegal outpost immediately and to pay the court fees incurred by its interminable and inexcusable procrastination.”
The special security situation on Israel’s northern border is not over, and the IDF is continuing with its increased preparations, Major General Amir Baram, commander of the IDF’s Northern Command, remarked.
Baram met on Sunday with the heads of the local authorities and the directors of the hospitals in the north and updated them on the security situation and discussed the challenges of the coming period.
He said that IDF forces in the northern sector “continue to maintain their readiness and are prepared for a variety of scenarios to fulfill the mission of protecting the residents of the north and the State of Israel.”
The IDF is on high alert on Israel’s northern border in expectation of an attack by the Hezbollah terror organization.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah earlier this month again threatened to kill Israeli soldiers in retaliation for a Hezbollah operative killed in July during an Israeli strike on Iranian targets in Syria.
Hezbollah has since carried out several failed attacks on Israel’s border, and the military believes that Nasrallah will not be satisfied until an IDF soldier is killed by Hezbollah terrorists.
Such a severe attack could mean a full-blown conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and Lebanon.
Israel appears to be on the way to a full closure as the numbers of Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths passed the 1,000 mark over the weekend.
With the infection rate climbing on a daily basis, the government has announced it will impose local closures on “red” cities with a high morbidity rate, but experts warn that such a move is not sufficient and that a full closure will be required to stem the spread of the virus, especially ahead of the Jewish High Holidays that will commence in two weeks.
The Corona Cabinet met Thursday and decided to impose closures on dozens of “red” cities on Monday while the relevant government officials and ministries are preparing a plan for comprehensive national restrictions to be applied if necessary.
Ultimately, the government has yet to decide on how to address the pandemic in a comprehensive manner, and the various ministries are offering and promoting different, and at times, contradicting moves.
Corona Project Manager Ronni Gamzu has been battling the ministers on various issues, and especially on the issue of possible closures.
Israel has the highest morbidity rate per million citizens in the world.
The Ministry of Health updated Sunday that it documented 1,482 new cases, but it usually records a lower number than usual over the weekend. The percentage of positive tests stood at a high of 9.8%.
There are currently 26,062 active cases, with 434 patients in serious condition, of whom 120 are on life support.
A total of 129,173 Israelis have been infected with the virus since the outbreak of the pandemic, of whom 102,104 have recovered.
1,007 have died of the virus.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday signed four orders to seize Hamas’ funds and property in the Gaza Strip and around the world, in a total sum of millions of shekels.
The orders are part of Israel’s economic campaign against terrorist operatives, which is being conducted by the National Headquarters for Economic Warfare against Terrorism in the Ministry of Defense together with the Shin Bet, the IDF, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other parties.
In the Gaza Strip, the Gantz signed an order to seize $900,000 from the currency exchange company Asama Albashiti for its financial activities on behalf of Hamas.
In the international arena, Gantz signed an order restricting the transfer of property and money to Rami Abdu and Khaled Turani, who serve as members of the management of the Al-Felestein organization, which operates in Britain, belongs to Hamas and was declared a designated terror group in Israel.
He also signed a similar order against Mahmoud al-Hanafi, who serves as the director-general of the Palestinian Institute for Human Rights, which operates in Lebanon, belongs to Hamas and was similarly declared a designated terror group in Israel.
The seizure and restraining orders were distributed widely to the financial systems established in Israel and around the world, a move that should lead to the imposition of additional restrictions on the targeted organizations, institutions and individuals by other entities.
Ganz stated that Israel ” will continue to act against terrorism in whatever way it operates and everywhere. The defense establishment, through the National Economic Counterterrorism Headquarters in the Ministry of Defense, will pursue terrorist organizations in Israel and around the world, and will interrupt the distribution of terrorist funds.”
Israel has issued similar orders in the past.