Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Israelis in costumes but no masks celebrated Purim at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, February 26, 2021.

A large police force operated on Saturday in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and surrounding localities to enforce the Purim night curfew and prevent mass gathering. In some places, stones were thrown at the police and officers were injured. Damage was done to police vehicles. Several suspects were arrested.

In order to prevent Purim gatherings in Jerusalem, bus traffic to and from the city has been blocked starting Saturday night. Trains to and from Jerusalem have also been suspended, and organized transportation is prohibited, except for essential workers and soldiers, and transportation to educational and welfare institutions whose activities are permitted within Jerusalem.

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Public transportation in the city operates in the usual format.

The health ministry is concerned about the events planned in Jerusalem during the day of Purim which is celebrated here on Sunday, and their impact on the morbidity.

Corona Czar Prof. Nachman Ash told Reshet Bet radio on Sunday morning that he hopes the celebrants today will act responsibly: “We had a lot of information about mass gatherings, so we recommended stopping all transportation to Jerusalem for one day. I hope that those who are in Jerusalem will act responsibly.”

Ash expressed his concern about the impact of the mass parties in Tel Aviv over the weekend: “We are very worried about what will happen in two weeks. I have no doubt it will have an impact. The most worrying thing is that it will affect our ability to open up the economy. These parties will make it difficult for us.”

“It was very difficult to see those parties taking place and we are very worried,” Prof Ash added. “I have no doubt it will have an impact and we will see more patients, and the infection coefficient will go up. There were a lot of young people there who were not vaccinated, certainly there are some who were vaccinated, but we are worried.
The coefficient of infection is close to 1 and if it rises above it we would reconsider opening the third phase, there would be a problem.”

Regarding the Purim celebration in Jerusalem on Sunday, Pop Ash said: “I hope they will act responsibly. We had a lot of information about planned mass gatherings so we recommended stopping public transportation. Hopefully, whoever is in Jerusalem will act responsibly, both the leadership and each one for himself. It concerns human life and our economy, it would be a great pity if either is harmed.”

The images from many parties that were held Saturday night in violation of the guidelines raised many questions regarding police enforcement at the Purim events. The commander of the police station in south Tel Aviv, Chief Superintendent Dudi Shalev, told Reshet Bet radio it was the public’s fault: “Unfortunately, the public in the State of Israel is not disciplined – where is the public responsibility? If I have to break up a party of fashion models in the middle of the night – where’s their responsibility? And it’s not just young people.”

As of Saturday there are 2,555 new Corona patients in Israel, out of 64,308 tests, a 5.9%. 1,236 are hospitalized, 760 of whom are in serious condition and 244 are on respirators. 5,732 have died of the Corona in Israel since the outbreak of the pandemic. 4,685,527 have been vaccinated in Israel, 3,317,522 have received the second dose of the vaccine.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.