Israel is edging closer to 1,000 coronavirus deaths as new cases spike further, health officials said Wednesday evening.
The Health Ministry said 969 people have died from coronavirus-related complications since the start of the pandemic.
The ministry reported that since midnight 2,386 people tested positive for COVID-19 - the highest number of daily cases recorded in Israel - putting the country's total caseload since the start of the outbreak 121,464.
Out of the 22,863 patients currently battling the disease, 422 are in a serious condition, of whom 125 are connected to ventilators - an increase of 15 in the past 24 hours.
At least 97,234 Israelis have so far recovered from the virus.
The ministry also said at least 70% of "red" municipalities, indicating an exceptionally high infection rate, are Arab cities and communities. The residents and officials in the municipalities appear to be split on how to handle the crisis best.
"We want a lockdown. People here are responsible enough and want to lower the number of patients. I think that is the right move," said Hafez Mansour, a resident of the central Arab town of Tira, a "red" city that saw its active coronavirus cases rise to 485 on Wednesday.
According to Mansour, the situation in the community is "not good." He points to the large number of tests conducted as the reason for the rise in diagnoses. "I hope the government will take responsibility and take care of the issue of mass gatherings during weddings," he said.
Mansour, along with many other Tira residents did not understand why local schools were ordered shut, but no action was taken against public events, where participants do not necessarily adhere to public health regulations.
"That is the issue, they closed the schools, but left the weddings as is," said Mansour.
"I am requesting the police here in Tira, city hall, whoever is responsible, to enforce the law and take control of the situation that is becoming difficult. Weddings are taking place all over Tira and there are a lot of people who contracted coronavirus."
On the other hand, Tira's Deputy Mayor Muhammad Deas warned that a lockdown will further hurt the city's economy.
"It will bring mass unemployment, halt retail and manufacturing and hurt people who work outside the city," Deas said, adding that he believes more than 55% of the residents work outside of town, especially in Jewish cities.
"I believe that residents will take responsibility and halt the virus' spread in Tira's neighborhoods. Unfortunately, we had mass events in private homes. Restaurants also do not adhere to public health orders and I believe it is time for them to seriously do so."
Recent Health Ministry data also showed a spike in cases within the ultra-Orthodox community.
Jerusalem has recorded 1,549 new cases in the past seven days, with Bnei Brak reporting 705. This recent spike could be attributed to several outbreaks at yeshivas, with over 800 students in such institutions contracting the virus in the past three days alone.
Even the northern town of Karmiel, which does not have a sizeable ultra-Orthodox community, saw a serious outbreak in a local yeshiva with over 200 students confirmed with the virus.