Photo Credit: YouTube screen grab / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks from the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, giving an update on COVID-19.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed his condolences Monday night to the followers of the Pittsburgher Rebbe, who was laid to rest earlier in the day, mourned by thousands, many of whom decided to accompany the Rebbe on his way to his final resting place.

Pittsburgh Rebbe, 64, Dies from COVID-19


The number of those who attended the Rebbe’s funeral in Ashdod, in fact, was considerably larger than that which organizers provided to the police who were sent to enforce compliance with Ministry of Health coronavirus regulations, which created bad feeling on both sides.

Hard to Watch: Violent Israeli Police Attack Adults and Children in Haredi Neighborhoods

Israeli police were seen in videos attempting to set up barricades to disperse the large crowd; they were also seen shoving and wrestling with mourners.

There are also several videos of Israeli police beating up yeshiva boys and young men in Bnei Brak, even when they are standing on sidewalks, wearing masks and do not seem to be doing much of anything else.

In his statement Monday night, Netanyahu spoke about the violence that took place during the funeral.

“Regarding violations of the lockdown, first of all I send condolences to the followers of the Pittsburgher Rebbe,” the prime minister said.

“However, regarding the funeral in Ashdod, this was a severe violation of the rules.

“This creates two problems that we have also seen with other gatherings — both an incubator for the coronavirus and the fraying of unity.

“This is unacceptable,” Netanyahu scolded. “We also see this in prayer services to my regret and also in the demonstrations.”

The prime minister neglected to mention the thousands of demonstrators who showed up at his own doorstep in Jerusalem on Balfour Street — not to mention the thousands protesting in Tel Aviv and elsewhere around the country — night after night for weeks on end, many without masks and certainly none engaging in “social distancing” until they were forcibly banned from doing so, with legislation passed by the Israeli Knesset this past week.

“I call on both the strictly Orthodox and the secular publics, on all citizens of Israel, to honor the rules. We want a uniform honoring and enforcement of the rules,” he said, in what is probably the most ironic sentence of the season.

“There is an attempt here to do this despite the great difficulty inherent in the matter,” Netanyahu went on. “In the end, we need the cooperation of the citizens of Israel, and of public leaders.”

That last shot was no doubt intended for the Israeli ministers and other lawmakers who have also been caught breaking the coronavirus lockdown rules — including Likud Environmental Minister Gila Gamliel.

The minister was called out for her own breach of lockdown rules when she and her family traveled north from Tel Aviv to Tiberias in advance of Yom Kippur last month.

Gamliel announced Saturday night that she has just tested positive for COVID-19 and will comply with all relevant restrictions, as she said she did at that time as well, on September 18.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.