Photo Credit: Gili Yaari / Flash 90
Israeli Police set up checkpoints at the entrance to Bnei Brak as part of an effort to enforce a lockdown, March 31, 2020

Israel’s government cabinet decided Thursday night that a modified national lockdown is necessary to stem the growing spread of the novel coronavirus across the Jewish State.

But not just yet. Israelis have a reprieve at least for this last weekend, because the country’s leaders just couldn’t bring themselves to force these draconian limitations down the throats of their constituents again, knowing the kind of outrage they will face. They took refuge in the excuse of having to push the measures through the Knesset, and having to persuade this one and that one of the necessity for the restrictions.

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As the meeting began, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned,
“We will have 1,600 patients in serious condition within three weeks if we don’t have new restrictions.”

On Wednesday night, the country for the first time broke past 200 with 204 patients listed in very serious condition.

According to a report broadcast by Channel 12 television news, Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said he favors a national lockdown every night of the week, and a complete lockdown from 5 am Friday, throughout the weekend until 5 am Sunday.

National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat reportedly said he wants to see full lockdowns on the weekends similar to that which took place on the seder night.

Ben-Shabbat said he also wants to see Israel’s beaches closed, starting already this Friday.

Education Minister Opposes Summer School Closure
Education Minister Yoav Galant said before the meeting that he is opposed to closure of summer school institutions.

Galant maintained that children are not as likely to become sick with the virus, and therefore did not believe they should be penalized by losing class time in which they can be with their school mates and friends. Likewise, parents are also penalized by being forced to search for child care so they can continue to work.

“The infection rate among children is six times lower than their share of the population,” Galant said. “I do not know why the Health Ministry insists on closing schools, maybe they are looking for symbols to explain to the public. The problematic thing is that the Health Ministry does not provide us with information or has no information on the matter,” he added.

Working to Expand Coronavirus Testing
Earlier in the day, The Ministry of Defense focused on expanding its agreement with My Heritage to conduct 30,000 corona tests per day, and to shorten testing time.

During a situation assessment that took place Thursday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed the defense establishment to prepare for the assistance of the medical system in increasing the number of corona tests.

Following the assessment, and at the request of the Ministry of Health, the Directorate of Production and Procurement in the Ministry of Defense launched a negotiation process with My Heritage, in order to increase the company’s laboratory output threefold within a few weeks – from 10,000 daily tests to about 30,000 tests per day.

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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.