Photo Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL
Interior Affairs Minister Aryeh Deri

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said during a Sunday morning hearing at the Knesset Coronavirus Committee that “in Jerusalem, the ratio of patients to the size of the population is not high, but when the patients are segmented – most of them are in the Haredi neighborhoods. And as we go neighborhood by neighborhood, in some Haredi neighborhoods there are more patients than even in Bnei Brak.”

Deri added: “It’s a given fact that we must deal with, we started working on it yesterday. We are opening another hotel in Jerusalem for the Haredi population, where we’ll be using the Bnei Brak model regarding food.”

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Deri revealed a plan to segregate the Haredi and Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and keep them under closure, after Bnei Brak had been declared a “restricted area.”

Street scene in Bnei Brak, Friday, April 3, 2020. / Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Participants in the Knesset coronavirus committee hearing included the Interior Ministry’s Director General Mordechai Cohen, Health Ministry Deputy Director Prof. Itamar Grotto, Director General of the Bnei Brak Municipality Samuel Litov, and additional health ministry senior officials.

Minister Deri described the challenges currently facing the government in dealing with the situation in Bnei Brak, saying, “The main problem with Bnei Brak is that family members who have patients infected with the coronavirus go to the grocery store to buy food, and infect others. They must be delivered food and medicine.”

“We set up a kosher isolation center in Bnei Brak and suggested that people move there, but it hasn’t been very successful.”

Deri also addressed the treatment of the elderly population in Bnei Brak, saying: “We were thinking of evacuating the elderly population in taxis, but since our volunteers had started convincing this population to move out, I got the data on Friday that only five percent want to leave. We decided that instead of taking them out, let the military be responsible for them. We’ll post one soldier for every four or five families. The soldiers will distribute food to those people. In the next few hours, the food begins to be distributed, and I have agreed with [health ministry CEO Moshe] Bar Siman-Tov that they will receive the drugs through the army. This is how we will isolate the older population.”

The Interior Minister added: “Our mission is to get the patients out of Bnei Brak. There are over a thousand patients, and they need to be transferred to hotels.”

Coronavirus Committee Chairman Ofer Shalah (Blue&White) stated at the beginning of the debate that “the intensity of the crisis is very clear to the residents of Bnei Brak. The city must be managed from within, and also at the government level.”

According to the latest figures, the city with the largest number of coronavirus patients is Jerusalem, where 1,253 residents have been diagnosed, a 10% increase since Friday. Bnei Brak has 1,192 infections, up 12%.

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