Hundreds of people attended Wednesday night Purim street parties in Tel Aviv in violation of the Corona regulations. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) attacked the participants in those parties, saying “the jump in morbidity will be registered in your name.”
Deputy Police Spokesman Chief Superintendent Asi Aharoni told Reshet Bet radio on Thursday morning that the celebrations held the night before with the participation of hundreds were “suicide parties.” He criticized the conduct of businesses that sold alcoholic drinks that “refueled the parties.”
“On the one hand they want to return to a full opening of public life, and on the other hand they are taking actions that bring the opposite result,” he said.
Corona Czar Prof. Nachman Ash said about Wednesday night’s street parties: “It is very unfortunate that this is how they choose to behave these days when the morbidity figures are still high.”
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The two largest gatherings on Wednesday night were in the Kerem Hatyemanim (Lit. Yemenite vineyard) neighborhood and Rothschild Boulevard, both in the southern part of downtown Tel Aviv (the cultural and geographic equivalent of SoHo in Manhattan).
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According to participants in the Kerem Hatyemanim party, it was not pre-planned but began spontaneously when many came to the area to get alcoholic beverages in the local bars. At the party on Rothschild, there were mostly young people and teenagers.
Police officers showed up at both hotspots, dispersed those present, and distributed summonses to businesses that operated in the area and to people who refused to evacuate.
Police also dispersed a crowded nature party on Wednesday night in Lachish Forest, detaining 18 young people at the scene and fined them for violating the guidelines. The party organizer and DJ were detained for interrogation at a nearby police station.
Police said on Thursday that they intend to “continue to investigate the circumstances this morning and summon the local business owners for questioning.”
The government confirmed on Tuesday that a Purim night curfew would be imposed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 8:30 PM to 5:00 AM. Long-distance public transport will be stopped starting at 8:00 PM during the curfew, and people be banned from staying at other people’s homes.
Among the restrictions: a ban on holding parties and fines for the owner of the party location. The fine for staying in someone else’s house during the curfew or for leaving the house for a non-essential reason is 500 shekel ($153).
Dozens of checkpoints will be deployed by the police which plans to boost their numbers in the streets to enforce the restrictions. Alongside the checkpoints, hundreds of patrol cars will operate during curfew hours and will conduct searches at all the major traffic arteries around the country while also utilizing mobile checkpoints to locate civilians who violate the regulations.
Homeland Security Minister Amir Ohana (Likud) said on Wednesday that “the police are not interested in a confrontation with civilians. This weekend, the police will be deployed with full force all over the country in cities and in the countryside. I have no doubt there will be violations. Even if the police do not reach all the violations, they will reach some of them.”
Chief Superintendent Aharoni said that 2,000 police officers would be assigned to enforcement duty during Purim, and explained that contrary to popular belief, the police can carry out enforcement of the regulations in private homes during the holiday.
“Even you’re having an illegal party in your private home, today, unlike last year, you’ll get a fine of ten thousand shekels,” he warned. That’s $3,069.
“On Purim night it is indeed allowed to have noisy parties even after 11 PM,” Aharoni explained, “But if there’s is a loud noise complaint we can enter your home – it is important that people know that.”
Health Minister Edelstein said: “Those who celebrate the infection parties need to know – the spike in illness will be registered in your name, business lockdown will be because of you, the loss of human life will be on your conscience. You see the situation, you see how even young people fall into a serious illness, how death reaches every age. Come to your senses, it’s not too late.”