Israel is again under a lockdown as of Friday morning, and this time it is a “tightened lockdown” across the country, after the regulations were finally approved by the Knesset committee. The police intend to tighten the investigations of stopped drivers at checkpoints, ask more in-depth questions and check all the passengers in each car, not just the drivers.
Heavy traffic was recorded on Israel’s roads on Thursday night before the start of the new lockdown. On Ayalon, the Metropolitan Tel Aviv main artery, traffic was 35% heavier than on previous Thursdays.
Police set up dozens of roadblocks on the highways between cities as well as on city streets across the country on Thursday night to enforce the regulations. For the next two weeks, checkpoints will be set up in a similar format every day from 7 PM until 7 AM. In addition, according to police, thousands of police officers will be patrolling throughout the day to enforce the regulations.
“The police will conduct searches in all the arteries around the country, and will also employ mobile blockades to locate civilians who defy the regulations,” the Police spokesperson’s office said in a statement.
All workplaces will be closed, except those that provide essential services, over the next two weeks. It will not be possible to gather more than five people in a closed area and more than ten people in an open area. Bus occupancy will be reduced to 50%. However, individual sports activities will be allowed without a distance limit, so get out those barbells.
Homeland Security Minister Amir Ohana told Reshet Bet radio that the acting police commissioner would send a message to police officers to enforce the regulations equally. “There is no selective enforcement,” Ohana insisted. “I believe this lockdown will be not only the last one, but also the most significant in terms of enforcement.”
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Ohana was referring to images from an illegally crowded event of the Avraham Yitzchak Chassidic court in Beitar Illit, in which a police officer is seen receiving a blessing from the Rebbe, in violation of the Health Ministry’s regulations as well as the very essence of what a policeman is supposed to do when confronting a crime.
“The incident in Beitar Illit was not good,” Ohana conceded, adding, “The message I convey is that enforcement should be equal.”
So now every policeman knows that when a religious leader is seen in the middle of violating the law, he should arrest him, not receive a blessing from him.
Good to know.
Deputy Police Spokesman Deputy Superintendent Aharoni responded to criticism of selective enforcement in various sectors, saying: “We have also dispersed weddings in the Haredi sector. Wherever there’s a blatant violation, we will also launch a criminal investigation.”
You show them.
The Knesset’s Constitution Committee on Thursday evening finally approved the regulations of the tightened lockdown, which include closing the education system and shutting down non-essential workplaces.
At the hearing, Dr. Sharon Elrai-Price, head of Public Health Services at the Health Ministry, said that the tight lockdown may last more than two weeks.
The cabinet ministers approved on Thursday the continued operation of the Shin Bet’s phone tracking operation until January 28. The ministers were told that over the past three weeks, the Shin Bet had located about 9,000 corona patients.
According to the closure regulations approved by the government Thursday night, the education system will go back to distance learning, except for special education students and at-risk youth. Some 50 elementary school principals in Tel Aviv announced that come Sunday they won’t conduct remote learning for third to sixth graders unless the Education Ministry rescind its decision to lay off about 6,500 teaching assistants during the lockdown.
The Teachers’ Union also called on the Education Ministry to reverse its decision not to employ teaching assistants during the lockdown.
In response, Education Minister Yoav Galant’s office stated that “the announcement made by a director of a department in the ministry on this matter was erroneous and unauthorized,” and therefore “the Minister instructed the Director General to rectify the error made in the matter immediately, and to issue a message in this spirit to all the district principals, supervisors and school principals, and to immediately investigate the error so that such mistakes are not repeated.”
Now all they need is a convincing fall guy.
In the Haredi sector, a directive was issued on behalf of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, the leading authority in Haredi society in Israel, to shut down educational institutions. But the leader of the Jerusalem faction, Rabbi Asher Deutsch, told the directors of his educational institutions: boys will continue to study as usual, girls will not be sent to school in the coming days.”