Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Tel Aviv's HaTikva market under lockdown, January 18, 2021.

Despite what can’t be described as less than a heroic effort on the part of the Israeli government, medical personnel, and committed citizens, the coronavirus numbers are not coming down. After a week and a half of a tight lockdown—which is nevertheless being challenged by some population segments—the Health Ministry reported Tuesday morning 10,021 new verified patients, based on 100,693 test results obtained Monday.

As of Tuesday morning Israel has 1,114 patients in severe condition, 277 of them on respirators. 4,049 have died from the pandemic since its outbreak last February. Meanwhile, the country’s vaccination effort is a celebrated success, with 2,185,113 receiving the first course of the vaccine and 420,015 the second.

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According to a Military Intelligence report, Israel ranks first not only in the number of vaccinations but also in the number of daily verified patients in relation to the population. This can be attributed to the high number of tests conducted in the country, since in terms of the percentage of positive tests out of the overall population Israel is behind countries such as the United States, Italy, Austria and the United Kingdom.

Police officers during a raid on a Yeshiva in the Sanhedria Neighborhood in Jerusalem that remained open in violation of the Covid-19 emergency regulations, January 19, 2021. / Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israeli police detained and arrested six people Tuesday morning in a raid intended to enforce the lockdown in Haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem. One of the individuals arrested was holding a knife and a gas spray. When the police arrived, dozens of people began to gather, confronting them, trying to prevent them from entering places that violated the regulations, blocking transport routes, shouting insults at them and trying to disrupt their movements.

On Monday night, large police forces dispersed a mass wedding in Bnei Brak of the grandchildren of two Chassidic Rebbes. The wedding, which took place in a hall on Yitzhak Nafha Street in the city, included, according to police estimates, more than a hundred celebrants.

The Corona Czar in the Haredi sector, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Roni Numa, said on Monday that 85% of Haredi educational institutions are closed under the lockdown, but about 10% -15% continue to operate. Numa noted that the rate of verified patients and deaths in the Haredi sector is significantly higher than their percentage of the general population.

On Tuesday morning, Physicians of the Israeli Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology, together with physicians from the National Council for Gynecology and Genetics, and the Israeli Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine, formulated a position paper regarding the link between the coronavirus, vaccines, and male and female fertility, stressing that there is no scientific basis or facts indicating infertility as a result of vaccination using the recognized vaccines.

They also stressed that the coronavirus can harm pregnancies and cause more severe illnesses in pregnant as well as premature births, which is why they urge pregnant women be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman MK Yakov Asher (United Torah Judaism) on Monday responded to the protest of Israeli hospital directors in a tent outside the Treasury building in Jerusalem, and said, “It’s inconceivable that, during times of corona, seven hospital directors would be in a protest tent outside the Finance Ministry. I call on the prime minister, the finance minister and the health minister to resolve the issue immediately. This must not happen,” he said.

“We are currently in a state of war, and in a state of war you don’t check prior commitments or this or that budget,” Chairman Asher continued. “Instead, you check to see what’s the most urgent thing that will allow them to operate in the coming days and months.”

Asher added: “If the hospital directors have to worry about making ends meet and paying salaries to workers who are currently fighting for the lives of hundreds of citizens – it is inconceivable that they would have to sit and wait for someone to solve their problem. A significant amount of money must be transferred to them for resolving their problem. When the state of emergency is lifted, then they can see what the correct budget should be, but now is a time of war.”

Dr. Roy Singer, Deputy Director of the Department of Epidemiology at the Health Ministry, told the committee that the level of antibodies measured in those who have received the Pfizer vaccine is higher than that of those who recovered from the disease.

“I don’t know if there’s another such disease in which the vaccine will protect better than infection with the disease itself,” he said.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.