Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
Israelis, wearing face masks for fear of the coronavirus, shop for grocery at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on July 21, 2020. Israel has seen a spike of new COVID-19 cases bringing the authorities to reimpose restrictions to halt the spread of the virus.

Israel’s Health Ministry reported Thursday that the number of new daily coronavirus cases has topped the 2,000 trigger point for a second day in a row – that magic number at which Health Minister Yuli Edelstein had warned weeks ago would mean the country would face the necessity of a general lockdown.

But the government and the parliament have decided that’s not what is going to be.

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Instead, in a radical move to the opposite end of the spectrum, after a vote by the Knesset’s coronavirus committee to keep the country’s gyms open, the government went even farther.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Coronavirus Cabinet and Israel’s new Coronavirus Czar, Roni Gamzu, together decided to simply continue the status quo: no lockdown in the coming days.

Israelis will be able to visit their favorite haunts and tourist attractions this weekend, children will still have summer camp next week (at least till August 6, the last day of summer camp and school) and those who love to sweat will be able to go with the flow to their hearts’ content at their favorite studio or gym.

At least for the time being.

Netanyahu warned at a late-night news conference, “If we have to, we will do it (a lockdown). It is very easy to be a populist, but we’ll make decisions based on professional considerations – while maintaining health, saving lives and of course, maintaining the economy.”

On Thursday, there were at least 2,032 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Israel in the 24-hour period between midnight Wednesday to midnight going into Thursday, according to the Coronavirus National Knowledge and Information Center, bringing the contagion rate to 8.3 percent.

But from midnight early Thursday until 7 pm, another 1,022 new cases of the virus were diagnosed as well.

There are currently 302 Israelis in very serious condition, including at least 83 who require ventilator support. Another 127 Israelis are reported to be in “moderate” condition.

Ten more Israelis were killed by the virus as well, bringing the death toll to 440.

There are now 57,453 Israelis who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Of those, 33,097 are active cases – Israelis who are currently struggling with the illness.

On Wednesday, 28,711 coronavirus tests were conducted, the Health Ministry said.

Any decision on whether to impose a lockdown has officially been put off until August 6, according to Hebrew-language reports.

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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 Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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