IDF Home Front Command troops have faced opposition from ultra-Orthodox communities in Haifa during their ongoing push to enforce coronavirus restrictions.
Soldiers assigned to the northern city were tasked with liaising with local communities to ensure restrictions to curb the spread of the virus were observed. But they reported that Haredi residents continued to ignore all directives, despite 500 new coronavirus cases being detected among that population in the past two weeks.
"We approach residents politely but are met with a refusal to comply with health measures, especially in the religious seminaries," IDF officers, warning of growing cases in neighborhoods such as the one populated by the Vizhnitz Hassidic sect.
The soldiers were deployed to the city and away from their training regimen in order to assist authorities in outreach programs to meet the needs of the local population. They were scheduled to carry out these duties at least until the end of the week.
Lt. Col. Sagi Baruch, who heads the command's southern branch said the same resistance was also found in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Ashdod.
"We must prepare for the next month, when mitigation measures are expected to be lifted from areas with low morbidity, but those neighborhoods still considered red zones would remain locked down," Sagi said.
Meanwhile another religious leader, 92-year-old Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, who himself contracted COVID-19 last week, instructed followers to open schools and religious seminaries on Monday, despite the government's directive to keep all schools closed.
Kanievsky later announced he would postpone school openings, pending discussions with local leaders.
The morbidity rate among ultra-Orthodox remains high, but has begun to show some decline and as of Saturday has been estimated at around 20% - down from 26% at the beginning of October.
First published: 21:58, 10.11.20