Photo Credit: YouTube screengrab / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israelis on Monday night the entire nation will be placed on a full lockdown beginning at 4 pm Tuesday, when every citizen in the country will be confined to their home town. Police will enforce the closure, guarding entrances and exits to each community to ensure Israelis stay where they are supposed to be, until 7 am Friday.

Jerusalem is being divided into eight districts for the lockdown, each of which is being shut down separately, and in which residents are not allowed to leave to mingle with any other area of the city.

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But that’s not all. The lockdown tightens further at 6 pm Wednesday, just 30 minutes before the start of the Passover holiday: At that point, Israelis will be forbidden to even set foot outside their homes until 7 am the next morning, the first day of the Passover holiday.

That seder night curfew – an unprecedented event in the Jewish State — will be enforced by Israel Police, the prime minister told the nation in his 12-minute-long address, adding, “It is important to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.”

Lockdown Followed Rising Death Toll, Lack of Cooperation
The decision to buckle down nationwide on a lockdown comes after numerous, repeated attempts to convince Israelis to cooperate with “stay at home” directives from the Health Ministry designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Jewish State.

On Monday, a 74-year-old woman who lived in a nursing home succumbed to COVID-19 at the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak, raising Israel’s death toll to 58.

A total of 8,904 Israelis have now been diagnosed with the deadly virus. Of those, 140 are listed in serious condition, including 109 who are sedated and on ventilators; 197 more are in moderate or fair condition, and the remainder are experiencing mild symptoms. Another 670 Israelis have recovered from the virus, according to the Health Ministry.

The attempts to prevent the spread of this deadly virus have failed in numerous Israeli populations up to this point — not only among young people who have a hard time understanding the true gravity of the situation, but also among millennials who likewise had a hard time restraining themselves from social contact for an extended period of time, and numerous others who were accustomed to gathering in their extended family groups on a regular basis for mutual support and other reasons.

At least eight strictly Orthodox cities around the country also had great difficulty enforcing the social distancing directives, leading to much higher numbers of COVID-19 contagion in their communities than elsewhere in Israel. The galloping contagion rate of the virus was highest in the Orthodox Jewish areas of Jerusalem, followed by the strictly Orthodox Jewish city of Bnei Brak.

Praise for Medical Personnel, IDF & Police
Netanyahu followed his grim statement with lavish praise for the members of the medical world, the IDF and Israel Police, all of whom, he said, were working to keep Israelis safe, referring to them as angels in white, and angels in uniforms.”

He also spoke of a tiny bit of optimism in that there are a few signs the spread of the deadly virus may be slowing down – but he also said that maintaining that trajectory depends solely on the public’s adherence to the Health Ministry restrictions.

Netanyahu’s description of how the country might begin to form an exit from the crisis following the Passover holiday began with the announcement of a record-breaking NIS 90 billion package that he said was approved by the government this week, to provide assistance to small businesses and those who are unemployed.

He also urged Israelis to buy domestic brands, what is known as buying “blue and white” – a term he appeared to deliberately avoid using – in order to reinvigorate and strengthen local industry.

In addition, the prime minister revisited the goal of testing 10,000 Israelis per day for the coronavirus – a goal that has proved elusive due to a lack of certain supplies that go into the testing kits as well as other factors. Nevertheless, Netanyahu said the goal still remains the same and vowed to continue reaching for that volume, or to get as close to it as possible.

The prime minister also made a brief reference to the current difficulty that has once again stalled formation of a unity government with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, saying, “There are obstacles, but I believe that with goodwill, we can get there.”

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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.