Children bussed to school in West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit
Children bussed to school in West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit
Photo: Shalev Shalom
Children bussed to school in West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit

Flouting restrictions, ultra-Orthodox reopen schools

Religious leaders instruct flock to open learning institutions despite gov't decision to keep lockdown restrictions on virus hotspots; locals outraged at government policy they claim singles them out, join protests in call for PM's ouster

Ynet |
Published: 10.18.20 , 15:43
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox seminaries and educational institutions for all age groups in cities and communities designated as "red zones" due to high coronavirus morbidity have opened their doors on Sunday in violation of restrictions imposed by the government in an effort to contain the outbreak.
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  • According to reports, police were not on hand to enforce regulations in most ultra-Orthodox cities and communities.
    Children bussed to school in West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit Children bussed to school in West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit
    Children bussed to school in West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit
    (Photo: Shalev Shalom)
    The government on Thursday decided to begin lifting restrictions on Sunday, after a month-long countrywide lockdown.
    Kindergartens were cleared to operate in "green areas", however, "red zones" were ordered to remain under lockdown restrictions until at least Wednesday.
    Prominent religious leaders, including Haredi-Lithuanian leader Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky - who himself had contracted COVID-19 - instructed their flock to disregard government directives and open institutions in areas with high infection rates.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday called on the ultra-Orthodox community to adhere to directives and keep their schools shuttered.
    הרב חיים קניבסקיהרב חיים קניבסקי
    Haredi-Lithuanian leader Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky
    Residents in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak expressed outrage at what they deemed to be the government singling them out once more, 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 had been traditionally supported by the ultra-Orthodox political parties that have given him the majority he needed to form his coalitions since 2009.
    Shlomo Klein, a resident of Bnei Brak told Ynet it was time to change the leadership.
    A school opened in violation of health directives in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit A school opened in violation of health directives in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit
    A school opened in violation of health directives in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit
    (Photo: Shalev Shalom)
    "Netanyahu must go," he said. "The ultra-Orthodox areas identified as "red zones" do not have more coronavirus than other cities with majority Likud support."
    Klein also lamented the government's failure to address the particular needs of the ultra-Orthodox community.
    "We live in crowded accommodations because we have large families," he said. "We require special consideration but instead of addressing our needs, Netanyahu is preoccupied with his appearances on television. It is always easier to blame us, and we are tired of that."
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