Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90
An empty Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv, March 19, 2020.

Israel’s Ministries of Economy and Finance published overnight Friday the lottery results that determine the identity of the nine malls that will open Friday morning as part of the “malls pilot.”

A raffle was held during the night in which nine more malls were picked to be opened, in addition to the six that had already been announced earlier. The malls that went up in the lottery are:


• Big Fashion Beit Shemesh
• Center 1 Jerusalem
• Arad Mall
• M Hadarech Mall in Beit Herut
• The Seven Stars Mall in Herzliya
• Sharonim Mall in Hod Hasharon
• The heart of the bay in Haifa
• Arena Mall Nahariya
• Mall One in Nof HaGalil

The above nine malls join the six malls previously announced, divided between the two largest mall operators in Israel, Ofer, and Azrieli:

• Ofer Mall in Be’er Sheva
• Ofer Mall in Petah Tikva
• Ofer HaKrayon in Qiryat Bialiq, Hefa
• Azrieli Mall Haifa
• Malcha Mall in Jerusalem
• Ayalon Mall

Malls with at least 20 stores could register for the raffle. The nine new picks were divided so that three malls were selected in the central area, three in the north and three in Jerusalem and the south – which kind of makes you wonder about the principle of a lottery…

Meanwhile, Israel’s Health Ministry reported Friday morning that after crossing the threshold of a thousand infected patients on Thursday for the first time in about a month, with 1,069 new verified coronavirus patients, 1,072 new patients tested positive as of today. The Health Ministry noted that 2% of the tests were positive, double the infection rate of 1%, which, according to one of the many decisions of the Corona Cabinet should be a reason to return to a countrywide lockdown.

The IDF Military Intelligence announced on Friday morning: “The implementation of the planned relief (for malls – DI) without the utmost care that should accompany it (masks, social distance, enforcement, etc.) in all sectors of the country, is expected to accelerate the level of morbidity.”

Yes, but it’s Black Friday, for crying out loud, how can you keep the malls closed on Black Friday?

Yes, Israel has long since adopted the American contact sport event that follows the meal of reflection and gratitude we call Thanksgiving. In fact, Israeli businesses have been offering Black Friday sales since the beginning of November. A sacrilege, you say? Sure, but it’s a 30% off sacrilege.

The “malls pilot” is expected to continue until December 6, at which point, depending on whether the morbidity rate doesn’t climb even higher (it will), the Corona Cabinet will decide to continue the program and invite more malls to join the fun, or impose an even more severe lockdown than before.

According to the Health Ministry, the success of the “malls pilot” will be measured using several criteria: at least 90% compliance with the maximum occupancy allowed in the mall and individual stores; less than 2.5% violations by non-masked visitors; no violations by mall employees who do not wear a mask; and no significantly large crowds at the entrances to the mall and stores.

Oh, and there was this dose of reality, courtesy of Dan Pilz, CEO, and co-owner of Dizengoff Center, who said on Thursday night that “unfortunately, we have very little time left to prepare and at the human level. This, after all, concerns hundreds of people who do not yet know if they have a job tomorrow or not. Many of them have been at home for more than two months and tonight they are spectators in an overnight drama about tomorrow.”

“I cannot understand some of these decisions,” Pilz said. “Like for instance, how a 70 sq. meter store can accommodate up to 10 people and a 1,000 sq. meter store can also accommodate only up to 10 people. If the problem is overcrowding, the regulation makes no sense,” he said.

Israelis have gained a universal reputation as arch-improvisers. They don’t, generally, plan much. Instead, they’re very good at winging it. It’s how they win wars, conduct foreign policy, pass government budgets, pave roads, and do myriad things that often result in the loss or the saving of many lives. But since the start of the pandemic, back around Purim time, it appears the Israeli leadership has completely given up any pretense of working according to an established plan. They run at least five different concurrent and conflicting plans, even as an exhausted nation is following their rapidly altered decisions every day. It used to be this quaint, even amusing thing about the Jewish State. At this point, this cute and cuddly thing has turned into a deadly monster.

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