Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90
Shaare Zedek hospital team in protective gear working at the Coronavirus ward, September 23, 2020.

The full lockdown for the remainder of the holidays begins Friday at 2 PM.

The Knesset’s Constitution Committee is expected to approve the amendment to the Corona Law, which will be approved by the Knesset plenum on Friday morning.

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As of Friday morning, with 60,524 tests, there are 7,527 new verified coronavirus patients. To date, Israel has seen 214,458 verified infections. Currently, there are 669 patients whose condition is severe, 167 of whom are on respirators. There have been 1,378 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic.

In this context, some in Israel have said a total lockdown is much like unspecific, broad radiation for a cancer patient. It stops the spread of the disease, but there’s a clear danger that the patient won’t survive the treatment.

The countrywide lockdown that takes effect Friday at 2 PM will remain in effect for a little over two weeks – until Sunday, Oct. 11, which marks the end of the holiday season (Isru Hag). The restrictions will include a significant reduction of the economy, as only essential employees are allowed to go to work. Prayers and demonstrations will be limited to 20 individuals in marked “capsules,” up to one kilometer from one’s home. Public transportation will be reduced significantly.

Deputy Superintendent Ziv Sagiv / Screenshot from YouTube (see below)

The head of the police investigation division, Deputy Superintendent Ziv Sagiv, told Reshet Bet radio on Friday morning: “The public needs to understand that getting out of the house unnecessarily is life-threatening. We’re at war. We will harden our approach. We will check the departures more significantly, employing less patience.”

Less patient cops – it’s what every country needs…

Sagiv was referencing to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s short speech to the nation on Thursday night when he announced: “This is a national emergency. We are in the midst of a prolonged war – the coronavirus war. This is a war for the economy, for health and again – this is a war for life. The second wave of the coronavirus is hitting the entire world and it is also hitting us. In recent days, almost every western country has seen record morbidity numbers and they are imposing severe restrictions on their citizens. Some of these countries have also imposed lockdowns over very extensive areas, including some that are larger than the State of Israel.”

But statistics don’t necessarily support the PM’s assertion, and Israel’s second wave greatly surpasses that of European countries which were hit much more severely in the early spring.

“We understand today that there is no difference between a demonstration and any other forbidden gathering,” said Police Deputy Superintendent Sagiv, and added wisely: “Yom Kippur does not atone for transgressions between people. There’s no point in going to pray when you’re endangering the lives of others.”

Thus, we’ve received the first Torah psak given by a police officer in the Jewish state. Herzl must be celebrating in his grave.

Earlier, under pressure from Constitution Committee Chairman MK Yaakov Asher (United Torah Judaism), another section of the Corona law was amended so that the government cannot ban prayers and demonstrations – only restrict them.

But the amended regulations could alter the nature of the demonstrations in front of the prime minister’s official residence even after the end of the lockdown. The police, the Health Ministry, and the Attorney General have formulated an outline that limits the number of demonstrators in front of the Balfour Street residence to 2,000.

Ministers from the Blue&White faction who participated in the Corona cabinet discussions claimed that the desire to stop the demonstrations against him was at the forefront of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s concerns during the cabinet meetings. Those cabinet discussions focused on demonstrations and restrictions on them, while recommendations from professionals and the discussion of material medical issues were pushed aside.

According to one of the ministers who attended the cabinet meeting at which the new restrictions were approved, Netanyahu was determined to bring an end to the demonstrations against him.

Another amended section: it is permitted to exit one’s house just for air, without any other reason, within a radius of one kilometer. Which reminded us of the classic story about the dad who went down to buy cigarettes in the corner bodega and never came back.

The Ministries of Justice and Health were also advocating that in the current, special emergency no matriculation exams or certification exams will be held.

The Knesset’s Finance Committee approved an amendment to the Economic Assistance Program Law, ahead of a vote on it in the plenum after Yom Kippur. The amendment is intended to facilitate awarding grants to businesses and provide their owners with advances as compensation for the months in which their businesses are expected to be harmed due to the tightening of corona restrictions. The same amendment also postpones the date of the reduction of unemployment benefits.

The Knesset will vote next Tuesday on the above amendment, alongside two other laws: the Basic Law of the State Economy and the Labor Grant Law, which are also intended to help the economy in the face of the corona crisis.

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