Children bussed to school in West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit
Children going to school in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit on Sunday, in violation of health regulations
Photo: Shalev Shalom
Police clash with demonstrators against restrictions in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modi'in Illit in October

Haredi MK to PM: End restrictions in areas with lower virus cases

Yaakov Asher tells Netanyahu that areas no longer seen as 'red' zones must be released from lockdown, after prime minister says some Haredi cities will still remain under closure, even though infection rate seems to be falling

Ynet |
Published: 10.19.20 , 15:55
A senior United Torah Judaism lawmaker on Monday warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lift restrictions from some ultra-Orthodox communities after a reduction in morbidity was recorded or be in violation of the coronavirus law and the government's "traffic light" program.
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  • The law, which passed in the Knesset last July, states the government can set restrictions to contain the coronavirus outbreak, while the cabinet's plan designates areas by color according to localized rates of infection, with red zones having the highest morbidity and green the lowest.
    הפרות סדר במודיעין עיליתהפרות סדר במודיעין עילית
    Police clash with demonstrators against restrictions in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modi'in Illit in October
    (Photo: Tal Shahar)
    MK Yaakov Asher, who also heads the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, told the prime minister that areas that are no longer red zones must be released from lockdown restrictions.
    Asher's demand came after Netanyahu said that he would leave restrictions in place in some Haredi cities, even when numbers of COVID-19 cases seemed to be trending down. Israel began Sunday to gradually lift a nationwide lockdown triggered by soaring virus infection rates.
    "Two of the five 'red' cities are beginning to show better results, but we will leave them under restrictions in accordance with medical guidance," Netanyahu said during a visit to Haifa's Rambam Healthcare Campus.
    "We can do this together," he said, as he called on ultra-Orthodox Israelis to adhere to health regulations.
    ביקור של ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בחמ"ל הקורונה בבית החולים רמב"ם שבחיפהביקור של ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בחמ"ל הקורונה בבית החולים רמב"ם שבחיפה
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking during his visit to the Rambam Healthcare Campus in Haifa on Monday
    (Photo: GPO)
    The prime minister has been criticized for favoring his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners' demands over the recommendations of health officials, thereby causing an increase in the spread of coronavirus as mitigation efforts were often ignored.
    Opposition leader Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid said Netanyahu's capitulation to ultra-Orthodox demands were because he needed them to ensure his political survival.
    "This is outrageous, and Israel cannot afford this kind of behavior," Lapid said on Monday, suggesting heads of Haredi educational institutions operating in violation of lockdown measures should be fined more substantially.
    Asher told Netanyahu that once restrictions were lifted, local authorities and the Haredi public would be more inclined to cooperate with the government in the fight against the virus.
    The ultra-Orthodox sector has been increasingly critical of restrictions that prevented synagogues from being opened and religious study from taking place.
    Children bussed to school in West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit Children bussed to school in West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit
    Children going to school in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit on Sunday, in violation of health regulations
    (Photo: Shalev Shalom)
    Residents in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak on Sunday expressed outrage at what they said was the government singling them out, while other cities saw some restrictions lifted.
    Some residents announced they would be joining the anti-Netanyahu protest movements, saying they had supported the prime minister loyally for years but felt he was no longer looking out for their interests.
    Netanyahu has been supported by the ultra-Orthodox political parties that have given him the majority he needed to form his coalitions since 2009.

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