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Israel Imposes Passover Curfew as Coronavirus Cases Top 9,400

Cabinet approves intercity travel ban starting Tuesday at 7 P.M. ■ Hospital in ultra-Orthodox hot spot says can't accept more coronavirus patients on life support ■ 259 cases registered among Palestinians

Border policemen chat to a driver at a roadblock set-up by police as they begin to enforce a national lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus April 7, 2020.
Border policemen chat to a driver at a roadblock set-up by police as they begin to enforce a national lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus April 7, 2020. Credit: RONEN ZVULUN/Reuters

As the highly contagious coronavirus spreads around the world, Israel and the Palestinians struggle to contain a local outbreak that has virtually halted daily life and led to tens of thousands of people entering quarantine.

■ 9,404 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 70 people have died. In the West Bank, 248 cases have been diagnosed so far. One woman in her 60s has died. In Gaza, 13 cases have been diagnosed.

■ Laboratory material shortages are forcing Israel to reduce testing, but Israel says it's planning on producing materials locally. The government has called upon citizens to wear face masks in public to better protect themselves and others from the virus. Guidelines explained

■ The ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, which has become a hotspot for the spread of the virus, has been put on lockdown. A general closure is in effect as of Tuesday, and a curfew as of Wednesday.

■ For the Health Ministry's official website on the corovavirus outbreak, click here.

Haredi leaders learn harsh corona lesson as Israel sends in the troopsCredit: Haaretz


8:40 A.M. Number of coronavirus cases in Israel rises to 9,404, with 147 in serious condition

The Health Ministry said that the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases has gone up to 9,404, with 147 in serious condition, out of which 121 are on life support. (Ido Efrati)

8:34 A.M. Israel registers 70 coronavirus deaths

Two more men, aged 96 and 97, died of coronavirus at the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, raising Israel’s death toll to 70.

The two men, who resided in a nursing home in Be’er Sheva that has been struggling to stem the outbreak, suffered from underlying conditions. (Almog Ben Zikri)

8:29 A.M. Two more Israelis die of coronavirus, raising tally to 68

Two more men aged 75 and 77 passed away from COVID-19 at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, raising the death toll to 68. Both men suffered from underlying conditions. (Haaretz)

8:01 A.M. Israel’s coronavirus death toll rises to 66

A 67-year-old woman with underlying conditions died of coronavirus at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, bringing the death toll to 66. She was on life support several days before her passing. (Noa Spiegel)

7:43 Israel bans food deliveries starting 3 P.M. Wednesday ahead of Passover

Israel banned ordering deliveries and purchasing food starting 3 P.M. Wednesday until 7 A.M. Thursday, as the nation celebrates Passover. (Noa Landau and Josh Breiner)

7:45 A.M. Number of coronavirus cases in Israel rises to 9,248, with 149 in serious condition

5:09 A.M. Members of ethnic minorities more badly affected by COVID-19 in U.S., U.K., preliminary data shows

Early figures in both the U.S. and the U.K. have shown that ethnic minorities were more likely to be badly affected by COVID-19, according to reports in Reuters and The Guardian.

Louisiana Governor John Edwards said more than 70% of the 512 people killed by the coronavirus in Louisiana as of Monday were black, a much larger percentage than the state's population that black people represent, about 33 percent. Similar figures were reported in Michigan and Illinois, according to Reuters.

The data is preliminary and not national, and does not explain what is causing the disparities. However, community leaders and public health officials said it could reflect both higher levels of underlying illnesses that make African-Americans more vulnerable as well as possibly lower levels of access to healthcare.

The Guardian reported on Monday that black and Asian people might also be disproportionately impacted. It quoted a survey by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre showing the percentage of patients that were non-white were nearly triple their representation in the population as a whole. The report also highlighted socio-economic factors for the disparity.

1:10 A.M. Trump to put 'hold' on funding for World Health Organization

Police officers in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem, April 6, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will be putting a "hold" on funding to the World Health Organization, after accusing the world body of failing in its response to the coronavirus pandemic and possibly withholding information early on in the outbreak.

Border Police officers wearing protective face masks as they enter the largely ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak as Israel battles to contain the coronavirus, April 3, 2020. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

"They called it wrong," Trump said, adding that the organization "probably" knew more than it revealed initially. He accused the WHO of being "China centric," during a White House briefing.
"We are going to put a hold on a money spent to the WHO. We are going to put a very powerful hold on it." (DPA)


10:01 P.M. Palestinians receive 10,000 testing kits, PA Health Ministry says ■ Gaza authorities warn of shortages

Palestinian intelligence was able to obtain ten thousand test kits for coronavirus, Palestinian health minister Mai al-Kaila said. An intelligence source in the Palestinian Authority told Haaretz that in recent days, security services had been able to source about 20,000 testing kits, some from China, and the rest from Arab and Islamic countries, and international aid organizations.

There are currently 248 confirmed cases in the West Bank, of whom 34 have recovered. One woman has died.

The Gaza Strip has recorded 13 confirmed cases, of which eight have recovered, but the Health Ministry remains concerned about severe shortages of medical equipment. Gaza Health Ministry Spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said that small quantities of laboratory materials were transferred to the Gaza Strip today, and urged the government in Ramallah and international organizations to act immediately to supply equipment and materials to the Gaza Strip. (Jack Khoury)

9:30 P.M. Number of confirmed cases in Israel rises to 9,248

The Health Ministry says the number of confirmed cases in Israel is at 9,248 as of Tuesday 9 night, a 3.8 percent increase since Monday. Of these, 117 are on ventilators and 149 are in serious condition. Of all cases, 770 have recovered and 65 have died so far. (Haaretz)

9:15 P.M. Health Ministry expands testing policy in nursing homes

The Health Ministry has changed its policy regarding coronavirus testing in nursing homes, and decided that at every institution where a person is found positive with the virus- all tenants and staff will be examined.

The move comes after teh virus rapidly spread in one nursing home, claiming five lives. (Ido Efrati)

8:00 P.M. Netanyahu tests negative for coronavirus, will leave self-isolation Wednesday (Noa Landau)

7:45 P.M. Netanyahu criticizes special coronavirus Knesset committee

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that t special coronavirus Knesset committee "turns out to be a completely political committee."

"As the entire world praises Israel's great success in the fight against coronavirus, the committee's attacks on decision-making and closure policy are ever more ridiculous," said Netanyahu. (Jonathan Lis)

Coronavirus in Israel: Policewomen at the entrance to Bnei Brak, as lockdown of ultra-Orthodox city begins, April 3, 2020.Credit: REUTERS/ Ammar Awad

7:30 P.M. Disabled IDF soldiers will receive a special grant of 500 Shekels ($140)

Under the direction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Defense Ministry and social security, disabled IDF soldiers will receive a special grant of 500 Shekels ($140).

Netanyahu said last week that he would like to approve giving the same sum to seniors and families with children for Passover, one for each of the first four children. (Noa Landau)

7:00 P.M. One more Israeli dies, bringing Israel's coronavirus death toll to 61

A 37-year-old Israeli with severe underlying medical issues died Tuesday after being hospitalized with coronavirus for the past week, and relied on a ventilator. (Bar Peleg and Ido Efrati)

7:00 P.M. Over 1 million Israelis register for unemployment during coronavirus crisis

Employment services reported that about 1,059,429 Israelis registered as unemployed so far since the start of the coronavirus crisis. The unemployment rate among Israel's work force stands at 25.3 percent. (Lee Yaron)

6:00 P.M. One more Palestinian tests positive for coronavirus, as 18 recover in West Bank (Jack Khoury)

4:00 P.M. Settler youth group to quarantine in IDF tent after refusing to stay in hotel

Twenty radical settler youth were housed in a tent in the cliffs of the Dead Sea after refusing to enter isolation in a hotel in Jerusalem, and damaged a vehicle that was transporting them. The tent was provided to them by the Israeli army, which also provides them with food.

The group, often referred to as "hilltop youth" was put in the IDF tents as a last resort, after failed attempts to find them an alternative solution. The boys were supposed to go into isolation after coming in contact with a coronavirus patient.

According to the boys, they were promised they could stay in the hotel together and have the Passover seder there. But when they got there and found out that they were gonna be put in separate rooms - refused. They were then taken on a trip to the south, to what they suspected was a prison. Along the way, they broke the vehicle's windows and some even managed to escape. After the police caught them, they were driven back to Jerusalem. Around 2 A.M., it was decided to transfer them to the tent. (Hagar Shezaf)

4:00 P.M. Israel police to increase checkpoints Starting 7 P.M.

Israel police will significantly increase the number of checkpoints starting 7 P.M. Tuesday, including neighborhood checkpoints, in an attempt to prevent people from leaving their homes.

The checkpoints will be tightened further on Wednesday 3 P.M., when a large amount of checkpoints will be deployed in both main roads and city exits.

3:15 P.M. Number of Arab Israeli coronavirus patients rises to 240, with 11,734 tests

The number of coronavirus patients in Israel's Arab community rose to 240, after 11,734 tests were conducted as of Tuesday afternoon. According to this data, the percentage of coronavirus patients in the Arab community is approximately 2 percent - a figure significantly lower than that found in the Jewish community - about 8 percent.

These numbers do not include East Jerusalem and mixed Jewish-Arab cities. (Jack Khoury)

2:13 P.M. Health Ministry directive says masks mandatory starting April 12

A new directive signed by the Health Ministry's director general says wearing a mask will now be mandatory for Israelis starting on Sunday, April 12.

A paramedic in full protective gear inside an ambulance, Meah Shearim, Jerusalem, March 31, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

However, a police official said: "we will not be able to enforce the order of wearing face masks in public spaces since there is no sanction or fine on not enforcing this order. All a policeman can do is ask a person to wear the mask." (Josh Breiner)

1:40 P.M. Cabinet approves banning intercity travel for Passover

The cabinet has approved restrictions on movement for Passover, which will bar travel between cities and between different areas of Jerusalem starting on Tuesday at 7 P.M. and ending on Friday at 6 A.M. A curfew barring people from going further than 100 meters from their homes will begin on Wednesday at 3 P.M. and end the following morning. (Noa Landau)

>> Read the full report here

1:35 P.M. Bnei Brak hospital says it cannot accept more patients requiring ventilators

The Ma'ayanei HaYeshua Hospital in Bnei Brak says it can no longer accept patients who require ventilators because of a shortage in monitoring devices required to operate them. (Bar Peleg)

1:08 P.M. Berlin cancels commemorations for 75th anniversary of WWII's end

The city of Berlin has called off plans to hold large events at its landmark Brandenburg Gate and other historic locations in May to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, amid the continuing coronovarius outbreak. Even if there is hope that the country's coronavirus restrictions might be loosened by then, having big festivities on May 8 in the German capital is not the right idea, according to Moritz van Duelmen, head of the organizing body Kulturprojekte Berlin. (DPA)

12:53 P.M. Health Ministry: Grocery stores to remain open until 6 P.M. Wednesday

The Health Ministry says that according to regulations expected to be approved today restricting movement for Passover, supermarkets, grocery stores and food deliveries will be allowed to remain open until 6 P.M. on Wednesday. (Haaretz)

12:50 P.M. Iran records 133 new coronavirus deaths, toll at 3,872

Iran's coronavirus death toll rose to 3,872 with 133 deaths in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur tells state TV on Tuesday. The total number of cases climbed to 62,589, with 2,089 new infections, while 3,987 infected people were in a critical condition, he says.

12:32 P.M. Cabinet begins meeting on possible Passover curfew

The cabinet has begun a meeting to discuss the planned nationwide Passover curfew. Prime Minister Netanyahu proposed the curfew on Monday and a meeting was set for midnight. It was then postponed to 10 A.M. on Tuesday and finally commenced in the afternoon. (Noa Landau)

12:19 P.M. 94-year-old woman, a resident of a Be'er Sheva nursing home, dies

A 94-year-old woman with underlying illnesses has died at Ichilov Hospital, Tel Aviv. She was hospitalized on March 31 after being diagnosed with the coronavirus and had been living at a nursing home in Be'er Sheva. Several other people who lived in the nursing home have also died of the disease. (Almog Ben Zikri)

11:55 A.M. Nearly three-quarters of Jerusalem patients live in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods

Nearly three-quarters of Jerusalem's coronavirus patients live in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, official figures show. According to official figures, 1,068 of the 1,442 people diagnosed with coronavirus in Jerusalem as of Monday, or 74 percent, are residents of these neighborhoods. This means Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods are among the parts of the country with the highest proportion of cases per residents. (Aaron Rabinowitz)

11:50 A.M. Intercity travel ban on Passover to include travel between different zones in Jerusalem

Authorities have defined seven different zones in Jerusalem, which people will not be able to travel between during the country's intercity travel ban set for Passover. (Noa Landau)

Paramedics remove a patient from an ambulance at the emergency room of Sha'are Tzedek hospital, March 30, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

11:32 A.M. Palestinian cases in West Bank rise to 246

The Palestinian Health Ministry says another six people have been diagnosed in the West Bank, bringing the number of confirmed cases there to 246. (Jack Khoury)

11:05 A.M. WhatsApp limits message forwarding to slow spread of coronavirus misinformation

Facebook's WhatsApp tightened message forwarding limits on Tuesday, restricting users to sharing forwarded content one chat at a time after a jump in messages touting bogus medical advice since the start of the coronavirus crisis. WhatsApp, which has more than 2 billion users worldwide, said in a blog post it made the change after observing a "significant increase" in the number of forwards since the start of the coronavirus crisis. (Reuters)

11:00 A.M. Russia's daily rise in coronavirus cases tops 1,000 for first time

The number of coronavirus cases in Russia has risen by more than 1,000 for the first time to reach 7,497 in the past 24 hours, the country's crisis response center says. (Reuters)

10:50 A.M. Israel's number of tests stalled at 7,000 a day

Thanks to a shortage of an essential component, authorities in Israel are able to conduct about 7,000 tests a day, according to a document obtained by Haaretz. The numbers shown in the document suggest that the goal of 10,000 a day set by the government is unlikely to be reached soon. Ido Efrati)

10:47 A.M. 200 removed from Bnei Brak since closure began

About 200 residents of Bnei Brak have been placed in quarantine facilities or hotels since the city's closure began, despite plans to move thousands. (Bar Peleg)

Workers removes written prayers and disinfect the Western Wall during the coronavirus pandemic, Jerusalem, March 31, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

10:40 90-year-old man dies, Israeli death toll rises to 60

A 90-year-old man has died of the coronavirus at Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, bringing the country's death toll from the virus to 60.

9:37 A.M. Dubai extends closure of commercial activities until April 18

Dubai, the commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates, has extended the closure of commercial activities until April 18 as part of efforts to contain coronavirus, the Dubai Economic Department said in a statement on Twitter. (Reuters)

9:24 A.M. 95-year-old woman dies, Israeli toll rises to 59

A 95-year-old woman who suffered from underlying conditions has died at Ichilov Hospital, Tel Aviv, bringing Israel's death toll from the virus to 59. (Haaretz)

9:05 A.M. Number of confirmed cases in Israel rises to 9,006

The Health Ministry says the number of confirmed cases in Israel is at 9,006 as of Tuesday at 8 A.M. Of these, 113 are on life support and 153 are in serious condition. The number of seriously ill patients has risen 29.3 percent within 24 hours. (Haaretz)

8:15 A.M. Document: Israel to look for domestic solutions for obtaining ventilators after international purchases fall through

The government's attempts to quickly obtain ventilators from abroad fell through this week, prompting a decision to instead focus on domestic solutions, according to official document obtained by Haaretz.

The health care system has been waiting for weeks for a significant increase in the number of ventilators that have been ordered and promised to hospitals for use in intensive care units, as part of preparations for a sharp spike in patients requiring them. But over the past week, international companies have backed off of commitments to provide large numbers of ventilators in the time requested. (Ido Efrati)

7:47 A.M. 80-year-old Israeli man dies of coronavirus

An 80-year-old man has died of the coronavirus, raising Israel's death toll to 58. The man had suffered from underlying conditions and was ventilated for weeks. (Bar Peleg)

3:47 A.M. Knesset approves coronavirus rescue package

The Kneseet approved overnight Monday an 80 billion shekel ($22.3 billion) economic plan to help the Israeli economy get through the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. (Jonathan Lis)

1:03 A.M. Cabinet postpones vote on general closure

The cabinet postponed the vote to approve a general closure across Israel ahead of Passover Eve on Wednesday; if approved, the lockdown will go into effect on Tuesday at 4 P.M.

The cabinet will convene on Tuesday at 10 A.M. for further discussions.

At the request of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the ministers are likely to approve a ban on intercity travel from Tuesday at 4 P.M. until Saturday at 8 P.M.

In addition, a curfew will probably be imposed on Wednesday at 2 P.M. until Thursday at 7 A.M.

The restrictions would apply for mainly Jewish communities, where Passover is celebrated.

Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said intercity travel would be banned until Friday at 7 A.M., and that a curfew would be imposed on Wednesday at 6 P.M. until Friday at 7 A.M. (Noa Landau)


11:35 P.M. Israel’s coronavirus death toll rises to 57

A 74-year-old woman died of COVID-19 at Mayanei Hayeshua hospital in Bnei Brak. The woman suffered from underlying health conditions and resided in a nursing home. (Bar Peleg)

10:56 P.M. 13th case of the coronavirus diagnosed in Gaza

Another person has been diagnosed with the coronavirus in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The total number of recorded coronavirus cases in the strip is now 13, with 6 having recovered. (Jack Khoury)

10:18 P.M. U.K. Prime Minister Johnson in intensive care

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been taken into the intensive care unit in hospital after his COVID-19 worsened, his office said on Monday.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the first secretary of the state, will take over Johnson's duties where necessary. (Reuters)

10:05 P.M. 20 settlers refuse to enter quarantine, vandalize police vehicle

Twenty people residing in a Jewish settlement who came into contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient refused to enter quarantine in a designated motel in Jerusalem, according to the police.

In addition, they defaced a police car driving them to an alternative quarantine facility.

The police are expected to open a case against the settlers after they end their quarantine. (Hagar Shezaf)

9:37 P.M. Prime Minister Netanyahu announces general closure, intercity travel ban

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the government is set to approve a general closure across Israel, which will take effect on Tuesday at 4 P.M. According to the proposed order, to be voted on by the cabinet later on Monday, all intercity travel will be banned until Friday at 7 A.M.

Furthermore, a curfew will be imposed on Wednesday at 6 P.M. which will last until Thursday at 7 A.M., when Jews celebrate Passover.

“We have no choice” but to enact such strict measures, Netanyahu said in a press briefing. (Haaretz)

>> Read more about the closure

9:31 P.M. Israel orders emergency medical service to reduce coronavirus tests over supply shortage

The Health Ministry has ordered the Magen David Adom emergency medical service to significantly reduce the number of coronovirus tests that it does, due to a bottleneck caused by laboratory shortages of testing chemicals.

No data on the testing have been officially released since Thursday. Last week some 9,000 people a day were tested, but only 5,000 underwent tests on Sunday, with a similar number expected on Monday.

The ministry schedules and regulates the daily scope of testing based on the ability of the labs to carry them out, and supplies Magen David Adom accordingly with swab kits for drive-through testing stations and for tests conducted in homes. (Ido Efrati)

>> Read the full report here

9:14 P.M. Attorney general tells Netanyahu parliament should approve emergency regulations

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a letter, saying that emergency measures enacted by his government to combat the spread of the coronavirus should be approved in parliamentary votes.

Mendelblit wrote to Netanyahu, saying "I have already made it clear that once there are legislative committees, these matters must be handled via those committees, yet the government refrains from drafting laws that are important for fighting the coronavirus. The consequences of these actions could be very harsh."

Lawmakers agreed on the formation of several Knesset committees, including one to oversee coronavirus response, last month, several weeks after Israel’s election.. (Netael Bandel)

9:22 P.M. 8,904 Israelis diagnosed with virus, 140 in a serious condition

According to Health Ministry figures, there are currently 8,904 Israelis who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Of those diagnosed, 7,841 are in a mild condition, 140 are in a serious condition and 109 of them on life support. 670 people have recovered from the virus who were diagnosed, while 56 have died.

9:00 P.M. Essential workers will continue working under new government guidelines

It is expected that workers classified as essential will be able to continue working under new government guidelines that will not allow people to leave the area that they live in. The government is expected to discuss further steps to restrict traffic ahead of the Passover holiday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will give an announcement at 9:15 this evening, in which he is expected to announce the new measures. (Noa Landau)

7:16 P.M. U.S. virus death toll tops 10,000

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 10,000 on Monday, according to a Reuters tally.

The United States has the third highest number of reported deaths from the disease in the world, only exceeded by Italy with 15,887 and Spain with 13,055.

White House medical experts have forecast that between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could be killed in the pandemic, even if sweeping orders to stay home are followed. (Reuters)

6:53 P.M. Unemployment rate reaches 25.1 percent

The unemployment rate in Israel is 25.1 percent, with over a million jobseekers. (Lee Yaron)

6:47 P.M. Iran's supreme leader approves using sovereign wealth fund to fight virus

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has approved the withdrawal of one billion euros from the country's sovereign wealth fund to help fight the coronavirus epidemic, President Hassan Rouhani's official website said on Monday.

Iran is the Middle Eastern country worst-affected so far by the coronavirus, with 3,739 deaths and 60,500 people infected as of Monday, official data showed.

Shut out of international capital markets and facing a further hit to its finances with the collapse in global oil prices coming on top of U.S. sanctions, Iran is struggling to shield its economy from the coronavirus pandemic. (Reuters)

6:35 P.M. World-leading philosophy scholar among those to die of virus

World-renowned researcher Prof. Mark Steiner was among those who died of the coronavirus in Israel today. Steiner, who was aged 77, was a philosopher of science at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was one of the world's leading scholars in the philosophy of mathematics. (Ofer Aderet)

5:46 P.M. An Israeli passed away from virus, bringing total to 56

A 90-year-old woman passed away from the coronavirus today. The total number of Israelis who have died from the virus is currently 56. (Almog Ben Zikri).

5:37 P.M. Police arrest man for violating Health Ministry Guidelines

Israeli police said that they have arrested a 22-year-old resident of Netanya who has the coronavirus in the Mea Shearim neighborhood for violating Health Ministry guidelines.

5:20 P.M. Special education schools and kindergartens likely to resume after Passover

Special education schools and kindergartens will likely resume operation immediately after the Passover holiday, according to an outline that has been formulated by the Health and Education Ministries. The Education Ministry said that these schools are small, so it is estimated that 50,000 special education students will be able to return to school.

About 200,000 additional students with special needs, who are integrated into regular schools in designated or regular classrooms, will be able to go "therapeutic centers" to be set up in schools for paramedical, emotional or individual classes after the Passover holiday. The Ministry of Education emphasized that the outline is not definitive at this stage and is contingent on the rate of virus infection. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

5:02 P.M. Bank of Israel cuts key rate to 0.1%, expands monetary tools

The Bank of Israel lowered its benchmark interest rate to 0.1% from 0.25% for its first rate cut in five years on Monday, joining other central banks in helping the economy cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

It also said it was expanding its repo transactions so that the agreements can include corporate bonds, in addition to government bonds, as security.

It will also provide loans to banks for a term of three years, with a fixed interest rate of 0.1%, with the goal of increasing the supply of bank credit to small businesses. The size of the plan will be 5 billion shekels. (Reuters)

>> Read the full report here

4:36 P.M. Goverment ministers discuss implementing additional restrictions

Government ministers are discussing a proposal to introduce additional measures to curb people's movement, which are expected to begin tomorrow.

The proposal, which is expected to be announced this evening, entails that from Tuesday until at least the end of the weekend people will not be allowed to leave the suburb that they reside in, except in the case of an emergency, such as the need for urgent medical treatment. Passover begins on Wednesday evening. (Noa Landau)

>> Read the full report here

3:32 P.M. Another two Israelis pass away from virus, bringing total to 55

Two more patients have died of the coronavirus at Ichilov Hospital. One was a man aged 72 and the other was a woman aged 87. Both had preexisting conditions. (Bar Peleg)

3:08 P.M. Two more Israelis die of virus, bringing total to 53

Two people with the coronavirus passed away at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center today. One was a 77-year-old patient with multiple, complex preexisting conditions. The second was a 91-year-old woman with who also had severe preexisting conditions. (Aaron Rabinowitz)

2:11 P.M. West Bank coronavirus tally rises to 240

Fifteen Palestinians tested positive for COVID-19 Monday, raising the total number of cases in the West Bank to 240, four of them in serious condition.

The Palestinian Authority has imposed curfew on the villages of Qatanna, Biddu, al-Jdeira and Beitunia north of Jerusalem. (Jack Khoury)

1:32 P.M. Government mulls next measures

The Israeli government is leaning toward a general closure throughout the country during the Passover holiday, after regional council heads as well as ministers Arye Dery and Yaakov Litzman opposed a partial closure of coronavirus hot spots only.

The ministerial committee on enforcement of a partial closure will not meet again, and the cabinet will convene later today instead.

Earlier, it was reported that the partial closure would most likely be expanded to eight cities, in addition to ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem. (Noa Landau)

12:19 P.M. Israel police seek software to locate gatherings

Israel Police has asked local companies Sunday to provide the force with software that will enable it to identify gatherings of more than 50 people in “near real time” and allow it to enforce the Health Ministry’s coronavirus restrictions against such gatherings.

Sources familiar with the request said the software would be based on cellphone geolocation. However, according to the document police sent to potential suppliers on Sunday, it will not gather personal information about the phones’ owners.

The contract will be awarded in a no-bid process due to the “urgent need” for it, the document said, and police hope to start using the software on May 1. (Josh Breiner)

>> Read the full report here

11:29 A.M. Nine more Palestinians test positive for coronavirus

Nine Palestinians tested positive for COVID-19, raising the total number of cases in the West Bank to 234, four of them in serious condition.

The Palestinian Health Ministry noted that the villages surrounding Jerusalem are at most risk, as many of the patients are workers who got infected in Israel.

The villages of Qatanna, Biddu and Beitunia north of Jerusalem have been closed off and declared dangerous zones.

Additional cases were discovered in testing of a random population sample, raising concerns that there are many undiagnosed patients in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Authority official responsible for the coronavirus crisis, Dr. Kamal a-Shakhra. (Jack Khoury)

10:42 A.M. Protective gear arrives from China

The first of 11 El Al cargo flights landed in Tel Aviv, delivering 20 tons of essential equipment purchased in China, including masks, suits and ventilators. Two more deliveries are expected by the end of the day. (Yaniv Kubocivh)

9:29 A.M. Infection rate in Haredi areas continues to rise

Out of the 631 Israeli citizens diagnosed Sunday with COVID-19, almost half live in ulra-Orthodox cities and neighborhoods, notably in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Elad, Beit Shemesh and the West Bank settlements of Modi'in Illit and Beitar Illit.

A rise in infection rates was also registered in Holon and Bat Yam, as well as in the Arab towns of Jatt and Jisr a-Zarka and the Bedouin city of Rahat. (Aaron Rabinowitz)

8:44 A.M. Two Israelis die from coronavirus

Two more Israelis died from coronavirus overnight Sunday, raising the death toll to 51, according to the Health Ministry. The total number of cases stands at 8,611, a 7 percent increase in 24 hours. Some 141 patients are in serious condition, an 11 percent increase in 24 hours.

5:40 A.M. Number of cases in West Bank rises to 225

The Palestinian Health Ministry says three more people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the West Bank to 225. (Jack Khoury)

12:57 A.M. Government considering expanding closure to eight more cities, Jerusalem neighborhoods

The cabinet spoke tonight about the possibility of expanding the closure currently imposed on Bnei Brak to include eight more cities, in addition to ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The eight cities are Elad, Modi'in Illit, Betar Illit, Beit Shemesh, Tiberias, Ashkelon, Migdal Ha'emek, and Or Yehuda. (Noa Landau)


9:00 P.M. Israeli government weighs full lockdown on Passover Seder

The Israeli government is considering a full lockdown throughout the entire country on Passover Seder eve. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Sunday evening on Channel 12 News that the aim of the move, if activated, is that "each person has Seder only with their immediate family at home."

The police, meanwhile, have already started cracking down. Police erected roadblocks at the entrance to Jerusalem on Sunday that are to remain in place until Seder night on Wednesday in an effort to keep people at home. There were also checkpoints set up at the Hemed interchange and at the entrance to Beit Shemesh, which caused widespread traffic jams.

The police don’t intend to stop, and will erect similar checkpoints at the entrances to other cities. The operation will go into high gear on Tuesday and continue until the holiday begins on Wednesday night. (Noa Landau)

9:00 P.M. Israel’s coronavirus cases rise to 8,430

The Health Ministry said that 8,430 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, most of them in mild condition. Forty-nine patients have died, 139 are in serious condition, and 106 are on ventilators. (Haaretz)

8:15 P.M. Number of coronavirus cases in West Bank reaches 222

Six more Palestinians tested positive for the coronavirus in different villages in the West Bank, bringing total of cases to 222, four of which are kids under 15, according to the Health Ministry in Ramallah. (Jack Khoury)

7:50 P.M. Hamas, Palestinian Authority leaders discuss coronavirus crisis

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh discussed the coronavirus crisis Sunday with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. According to the PA's speaker, the conversation was friendly, and Ishtiyah promised every possible aid to the Gaza Strip.(Jack Khoury)

7:40 P.M. Islamic Jihad leader urges Israel to lift Gaza siege, release prisoners amid coronavirus crisis

Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziad al-Nakhala said Sunday that Israel "must choose between life in shelters" or lifting the siege on Gaza and agreeing to release Palestinian prisoners, in light of the coronavirus crisis.

Acording to al-Nakhala, the Palestinian factions will not allow the siege in Gaza to continue in the shadow of the threat of the coronavirus.

The calls for the release of prisoners with an emphasis on elders, women and minors are recently growing. Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar said the organization is ready to show flexibility regarding Israeli prisoners if Israel releases Palestinian prisoners, especially the sick and elderly. (Jack Khoury)

6:45 P.M. Number of coronavirus cases in the West Bank rises to 216

Two more Palestinians tested positive for the coronavirus in different villages in the West Bank, bringing total of cases to 216, according to the Health Ministry in Ramallah. (Jack Khoury)

6:45 P.M. Israel's Arab community fears Ramadan could spark coronavirus outbreak

Israel’s Arab community has until now experienced a surprisingly low rate of coronavirus infection, but there is mounting concern that the outbreak could gain strength during Ramadan, showing the true gaps in public health between Israel’s communities.

As of Sunday evening, only 193 of around 8,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel could be found in Arab communities, according to Health Ministry figures. Not one Arab community appears among the first 60 on the Ministry’s list.

Experts say the gap can be partially explained by a relatively small number of tests conducted in Arab communities, as well as a lack of epidemiological investigation to locate those who had been in contact with COVID-19 patients, as Haaretz previously reported. As of Sunday, 6,479 people in Arab communities were tested in contrast to more than 80,000 in Jewish communities. (Nir Hasson and Jack Khoury)

>> Read full report here

6:40 P.M. Number of Arab Israeli coronavirus patients rises to 193, with 6479 tests

The Health Ministry reported that the number of coronavirus patients in Israel's Arab community rose to 193, after 6,479 tests were conducted, a 24 percent increase from Friday's numbers.

These numbers do not include East Jerusalem and mixed Jewish-Arab cities. (Jack Khoury)

6:15 P.M. Six out of the 12 coronavirus patients in Gaza recover, says health official in the strip (Jack Khoury)

6:10 P.M. Police set up checkpoints at Jerusalem entrances to enforce coronavirus regulations during Passover (Aaron Rabinowitz)

6:10 Attorney general requests coronavirus regulations be passed through regular Knesset bills

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit conveyed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the justice minister and secretary of state that now that the Knesset committees have been formed, legislative action on the coronavirus should be passed through regular Knesset bills rather than as emergency regulations.

"Where it is possible to promote legislation through the conventional route in the Knesset, there is a legal duty to choose that path, rather than adopting emergency regulations," Mendelblit's legal opinion said.

He further clarified that in certain urgent circumstances, where regulations can't wait for the completion of a legislative process, the introduction of emergency regulations may be justified, but only in parallel with the continuation of regular legislation in the Knesset. (Netael Bandel)

6:00 P.M. Knesset workers from ultra-orthodox Bnei Brak will no longer be allowed entry

Under Health Ministry orders starting Monday, Knesset workers, parliamentary advisers, security guards, faction workers and other officials who reside in the ultra-Orthodox town of Bnei Brak will not be allowed to enter the Knesset.

The directive was given in light of the existing closure in the city of Bnei Brak, which has seen a surge in coronavirus cases and is considered a hotspot for the virus. (Jonathan Lis)

5:45 P.M. One more Israeli coronavirus patient dies, bringing total to 48

A 98-year-old Israeli coronavirus patient with preexisting conditions died Sunday at a Jerusalem hospital, bringing the country's total death toll to 48. (Haaretz)

5:30 P.M. Israel's unemployment rose by nearly 6,000 percent in March

Employment services reported that about 972,900 Israelis registered as unemployed in March amid the coronavirus crisis, a 6,000 percent rise in one month. The unemployment rate stood at 23.4 percent by the end of March, and is still rising in April. (Haaretz)

4:30 P.M. Israeli minister promotes legislation to offset coronavirus fines from asylum seekers' deposit money

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan appealed to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri Sunday to promote legislation that would allow offsetting fines recorded for asylum seekers for violating the Health Ministry's coronavirus regulations from their deposit money.

According to Erdan, "offsetting the fines from the deposit money will help bolster deterrence in southern Tel Aviv and prevent the spread of the virus among this population." Erdan's initiative is awaiting approval by the Justice Ministry to raise it to a vote at an upcoming government meeting.

Israel finds it difficult to collect fines that the state imposes on asylum seekers, partly because of the difficulty of locating them for collection, and because in many cases they do not have a permanent address or identity card. Recently, the Interior Ministry decided to allow asylum seekers who were fired or are on unpaid leave due to the coronavirus crisis to redeem funds from their deposit accounts for subsistence purposes. (Lee Yaron)

3:50 P.M. Police track and arrest coronavirus patient on public bus, quarantine 34 passengers

Israel Police tracked and arrested a confirmed coronavirus patient Sunday who was travelling on a public bus on its way to Jerusalem, prompting 34 other passengers to be quarantined.

The bus driver was fined 5,000 shekels ($1,375) for violating government and Health Ministry orders. (Aaron Rabinowitz)

3:40 P.M. Police report 144 investigations against quarantine violators, 397 worshipers fined for violating orders

Israel Police said it distributed more than 12,000 tickets Sunday to people and businesses that violated coronavirus regulations, and opened 144 investigations against quarantine violators and 43 investigations against fake news distributors.

Additionally, 85 closure orders were issued for businesses, 132 reports on weddings held in public spaces, 397 reports on prayers violating regulations, 523 for refusing instruction to disperse crowds. (Josh Breiner)

3:20 P.M. Netanyahu appoints ministerial committee to oversee Shin Bet coronavirus surveillance

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed a ministerial committee to oversee the Shin Bet's surveillance of coronavirus patients' phones, chaired by Minister Yuval Steinitz, with Ministers Yoav Galant, Amir Ohana and Ze'ev Elkin. (Noa Landau)

2:10 P.M. Israelis investigated over fake news

Israel Police questioned four Israelis for impersonating Health Ministry officials and sending fraudulent text messages notifying others that they must enter quarantine amid the coronavirus crisis, creating panic among the public. They are also suspected of handing out fines to people who supposedly violated quarantine.

The case will be transferred to the State Prosecutor's Office for further examination. (Josh Breiner)

1:17 P.M. Iran's deaths from coronavirus reach 3,603

The death toll in Iran from the outbreak of the new coronavirus has reached 3,603, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement broadcast live on state TV on Sunday.

One hundred and fifty one people have died in the past twenty four hours, he said.

The Islamic Republic, the Middle Eastern country worst-hit by the epidemic, now has a total of 58,226 infections, Jahanpur said. (Reuters)

1:15 P.M. Parents to be reimbursed for unprovided services, Education Ministry says

Educational institutions will reimburse parents who paid for services their children didn’t receive amid the coronavirus crisis, including field trips and meals, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.

However, the Ministry will allowe the institutions to collect money from students’ parents for extracurricular activities if they are carried out through digital means.

Parents will also continue paying for schools lending out textbooks, and purchasing tablets and laptops. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

12:30 P.M. Health Ministry top official: Economic activity won’t resume after Passover

Health Ministry Deputy Director General Prof. Itamar Grotto said that the Ministry does not intend to lift the strict economic lockdown next week, after the Passover holiday.

Speaking before the Knesset committee in charge of the coronavirus crisis, Grotto said that “We don’t intend or have the ability to get the economy back on track after Passover. This should be taken into consideration. We have to wait and see if the infection rate changes after the Passover holiday, which will only happen several days after the holiday.”

Grotto added: “There’s a myth here I would like to bust. Even if we perform 200,000 tests or a million tests per day, this won’t help resume economic activity. If we test a million people, and allow those who test negative to go to work, it’s a matter of days until they start infecting others and are diagnosed with the disease.

“To resume economic activity, we would have to rely on serological tests (which identify coronavirus antibodies in the bloodstream),” Grotto said, adding that the Health Ministry, and the Mossad are working to obtain efficient serological tests. (Jonathan Lis)

11:40 Israel’s coronavirus death toll rises to 47

A 61-year-old woman passed away from the coronavirus at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. The woman, who suffered from underlying health conditions, was transferred to Wolfson from a geriatric hospital in early March. (Bar Peleg)

11:39 A.M. Interior minister: Infection rate in Jerusalem Haredi neighborhoods worse than Bnei Brak

Interior Minister Arye Dery, who is leading the response to the coronavirus crisis in ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities, said that the infection rate in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem is higher than in the largely Haredi city of Bnei Brak, which is now under complete lockdown.

Speaking before the Knesset committee in charge of monitoring the coronavirus crisis, Dery said that “Most of Jerusalem's coronavirus patients hail from its Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. In some of the most infected neighborhoods there, the percentage of confirmed cases is even higher than in Bnei Brak.” (Jonathan Lis)

11:19 A.M. Number of coronavirus cases rises to 215 in the West Bank

A spokesperson for the Palestinian government said that nine more people were diagnosed with the coronavirus, bringing the total to 215 in the West Bank. (Jack Khoury)

11:17 A.M. Health Ministry top official: We are working to lower infection rate in Haredi enclaves

Health Ministry Deputy Director General Prof. Itamar Grotto said that the Ministry is aiming to lower the infection rate in ultra-Orthodox communities.

Speaking before the Knesset committee in charge of handling the coronavirus crisis, Grotto said that the Health Ministry seeks to lower the average number of people every confirmed patient in the ultra-Orthodox community infects from 1.4 to 1.2.

“It may sound insignificant, but it has a huge impact,” Grotto said. (Jonathan Lis)

11:02 A.M. Health Ministry says solution may have been found to coronavirus tests shortage

The Health Ministry said that it seems to have found a solution over the weekend to the shortage of reagents, which has forced Israel to greatly reduce its coronavirus testing. The ministry added that it is also in contact with other suppliers, which will allow it to carry out an additional 10,000 plus tests per day in the next two weeks or so. (Ido Efrati)

10:23 A.M. Testing clinic for refugees, migrants and the homeless opens in south Tel Aviv

Ichilov Hospital and the Tel Aviv municipality opened a testing center for the migrant and homeless populations in south Tel Aviv starting Monday.

The clinic, which is located by the Central Bus Station, is intended for those who have been showing symptoms of the virus. (Bar Peleg)

10:05 A.M. Iranian president says low-risk economic activities to resume from April 11

Iran's president said on Sunday "low-risk" economic activities would resume from April 11 in the Middle Eastern country worst-affected by the new coronavirus.

"Under the supervision of the health ministry, all those low-risk economic activities will resume from Saturday," President Hassan Rohani said in a televised meeting.

"Two thirds of all Iranian government employees will work out of office from Saturday ... the decision does not contradict stay at home advice by the health authorities." (Reuters)

08:45 A.M. IDF, Defense Ministry to help Health Ministry with nursing homes

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that the Defense Ministry and the IDF's Home Front Command were instructed to assist the Health Ministry with operational aspects in nursing homes as part of Israel’s national effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Noa Landau)

8:21 A.M. Israel’s coronavirus cases surge past 8,000

The Health Ministry said that 8,018 Israelis have so far contracted COVID-19, most of them in mild condition. Forty-six patients have died, 127 are in serious condition, and 106 are on ventilators.

On Saturday, 182 more coronavirus cases were confirmed in Israel. The biggest increase was registered in Jerusalem, where 58 more cases were confirmed. Overall, 1,311 cases were registered in Jerusalem.

In addition, 26 more people tested positive in the largely ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, bringing the total there to 1,218.

In other ultra-Orthodox enclaves, only a slight increase of new cases was registered on Saturday.

An epidemiology expert told Haaretz that the low number of cases registered over the weekend stems from the low number of tests performed and doesn’t indicate that a trend reversal had occurred.(Aaron Rabinowitz and Ido Efrati)

8:10 A.M. 63-year-old man dies of coronavirus, raising toll to 46

A 63-year-old man diagnosed with coronavirus passed away on Sunday morning, bringing Israel’s death toll to 46.

The Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem said the man suffered from severe underlying health conditions. (Aaron Rabinowitz)

7:47 A.M. Israel’s coronavirus death toll rises to 45

An 84-year-old woman, who suffered from severe underlying health conditions, died of the coronavirus at the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva.

The woman resided in a nursing home where five have already died of coronavirus. (Almog Ben Zikri)

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