Photo Credit: PM Netanyahu screen grab via Facebook
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel’s capital city is two days away from a lockdown, according to Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon. And Israel’s national police force will be called upon to enforce Health Ministry guidelines if Israelis don’t learn to comply, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a television interview Wednesday night.

“I had a meeting this morning with the IDF Home Front Command and the community administrators to know what the closure means,” the mayor said, according to Ynet. “Certainly, if there is a closure, and I believe it will be in the next two days, the police will be called to enforce it. They are supposed to walk around the streets asking people why they’re out. I do not find a big difference to existing guidelines. We just need to make sure they are enforced.”

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The mayor also said he expects a “drive-in” coronavirus testing center to be set up by later this week at the city’s sports center, Teddy Stadium.

Although it is not likely the state will declare a nationwide closure, Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 12 TV news on Wednesday night in an interview that he “will not hesitate to enforce” the Health Ministry’s guidelines “by order.”

Netanyahu expressed his outrage at seeing news coverage of weddings carried out at event halls in violation of the guidelines issued earlier this week, and said the Health Ministry “has now issued widespread orders to the haredi community and closed the yeshivas.” He added that he would also “appeal to the Arab public; it’s a matter of saving lives.”

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu chaired a video conference from the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Additional lines of action were among the topics of discussion and were being evaluated, including intensifying quarantine enforcement.

The Minister of Health, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Public Security, head of the National Security Council, the Acting Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Director General of the Ministry of Health, the head of the National Economic Council, the Acting Police Commissioner, the head of the Defense Ministry Nation Emergency Management Authority and other officials all took part in the discussion.

As of 6 pm Wednesday evening, there were 433 people in the state of Israel who were sick with the virus and of those, six patients were in very serious condition.

In contrast to the Israeli statistics, in Italy 475 people died from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours alone, and 4,207 more confirmed cases of the coronavirus emerged.

Outside of China, Italy now has the highest number of coronavirus cases, with a total of 35,713 confirmed cases in the country, and 2,978 deaths reported from the virus, according to the country’s Civil Protection Agency.

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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.