Photo Credit: Yossi Aloni/FLASH90
Clalit HMO worker takes a coronavirus test sample of a child in Modiin Illit, September 07, 2020.

The list of red cities where a night closure is scheduled to begin starting Tuesday at 7 PM is expected to be published Tuesday morning, with Israel marking a large increase in the number of coronavirus patients: on Monday, 3,392 individuals were diagnosed with corona out of more than 40,000 tests. Israel’s death toll stands at 1,026, or 114 deaths per million.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained in a statement to the media the decision to postpone b y one day the imposition of the closure: “According to the law, we must hear and consult about each and every one of the cities, so we needed another 24 hours.”

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In a closed session of the Blue&White faction in the Knesset, Chairman Benny Gantz said: “I fully support Czar Gamzu, but he is not without mistakes either. He makes mistakes and he, too, has agendas.”

But after MK Miki Haimovich told Gantz at the same meeting: “Look at how the Haredim fold Netanyahu and how the decisions were made. And we did not influence the process and were not part of it,” Ganz replied: “I will tell you now something which isn’t populist. I was convinced that the localized night curfew was more correct than a total lockdown. I visited Bnei Brak and saw that they were working correctly. They worked hard to restore their public’s trust in the decisions. Gamzu, too, became convinced that it was the right thing to change the decision. The Haredim did not fold him.”

Ganz said at the beginning of his faction’s meeting Monday that “more than 400,000 citizens will enter the closure restrictions and the implications of this are numerous. These are not simple decisions but there’s no need to fear making decisions. I hear politicians advocate not to obey certain decisions (a reference to MK Avigdor Liberman controversial statement earlier this week – DI) and I suggest they help the public and not themselves. The corona is not here for anyone to gain seats nor as a tool for political attacks. The corona does not differentiate between an Arab, a Haredi, a Tel Aviv resident and a resident of Eilat. I suggest we all do the right thing for the sake of our citizens. It is time to recover and settle the disputes for the sake of the citizens.”

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman is expected to publish soon a special, interim report on the management of the corona crisis, Reshet Bet radio reported Tuesday. Among the issues that Engelman examined: economic assistance to civilians, locating the phones of civilians by the Shin Bet (to gauge the spread of the pandemic – DI), the system of inspections, the work interfaces among the various authorities, the operation of the National Security Headquarters, and information dissemination. The publication of this report will not wait for the Comptroller’s annual report, but will be done now.

At the same time, on Tuesday, the State Comptroller, in his role as Ombudsman, will submit his special public complaints report on the Corona. This, too, is an exceptional move, as the public complaints report is usually published annually. The report deals with complaints from the period of the first wave of the Corona pandemic.

A government source said Monday that the Corona Czar’s traffic light plan in its current form would not reduce morbidity. The PM, too, said at Sunday’s cabinet meeting that the proposed model would curb the results, but probably not reduce them significantly.

Another source involved in the crisis management noted: “There is fear of losing control. When you are at such a high level of morbidity, you can fall over into the abyss. There’s already an erosion of the healthcare system. It hasn’t collapsed, but the quality of medical care is impaired.”

The outline approved for restrictions on the red municipalities includes:

  • Night curfew from 7 PM to 5 AM – individuals may not exit their homes to a distance of more than 500 meters, except in exceptional cases
  • Closure of educational institutions, excluding kindergartens and special education
  • Businesses close at 7 PM except for essential businesses
  • Prohibition of gatherings of more than 10 people in a closed area and 20 people in an open area

Health Ministry officials have expressed frustration with the government’s decision not to impose a full closure on red cities. They told Kan 11 News on Monday that the ministry wanted a full closure on 30 cities to reduce morbidity and avoid a future, general closure on the entire population.

“It’s a difficult feeling, we experience helplessness at the fact that the requests of the Health Ministry are being rejected repeatedly,” the senior officials said, and suggested that “the relief approved by the Knesset committees is an unbearable hypocrisy because it increases morbidity.”

Prayer service at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, September 07, 2020. / Gershon Elinson/Flash90

The cabinet meeting to be held on Thursday will decide whether Israel will enter a lockdown during the Tishrei high holidays. There is disagreement on the matter among government ministers, with Blue&White opposing a full closure, and Ministers Deri and Steinitz (Likud) supporting it.

Gamzu’s plan includes restrictions throughout the country of leaving the houses to a distance of 500 meters and a call to keep the holidays in the family on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, on the holiday itself and on Yom Kippur.

Asked if there will be a closure on Rosh Hashanah, the prime minister replied: “I do not know, that’s why we are having a meeting. We are doing our best to avoid a closure, but we don’t have complete confidence in this thing (the traffic light system – DI). If we can do without a closure – of course we will opt for it.”

Netanyahu visited the command center of the task force on cutting the chain of infection at the IDF Home Front Command headquarters in Ramle. He was briefed by GOC Home Front Maj. Gen. Uri Gordin and by task force commander Brig. Gen. Nisan Davidi. The PM released the following statement to the media following the tour:

“We are constantly working on two axes – health and the economy. Today I visited the project here on cutting the chain of infection, together with the Defense Minister. I am very impressed by the cooperation. The Health Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office are working together, making progress and creating a network that will perhaps be the best of its kind in the world to cut off the disease. This is essential.

“At the same time – the economy. Tomorrow we will submit to the Cabinet a NIS 11 billion ($3.26 billion) supplemental budget to help businesses in Israel, the citizens of Israel, and the economy and society of Israel. From the start of this international pandemic, we have been constantly working on two axes – health and the economy. Our goal was first to bring about low mortality and as few severe cases as possible. Regarding the economy, the intention was to prevent the contraction of the economy as much as possible.”

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