Israeli Police Won't Go Into Schools to Enforce Lockdown, Officials Say

Police warn that they will deal harshly with violations during the tightened lockdown, but officials tell Haaretz they won't enter schools and synagogues, despite calls to open them even new rules go into effect

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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A police officer is pictured alongside Ultra-Orthodox men, Jerualem, January 4, 2021.
A police officer is pictured alongside Ultra-Orthodox men, Jerualem, January 4, 2021.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Police officials told Haaretz that the police don’t intend to change their enforcement in ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities – despite the declared intention of Haredi educational institutions to stay open even during the general lockdown that begins Thursday at midnight.

“You won’t see the police scattering children in educational institutions and you won’t see them entering the schools and the synagogues,” they said.

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Police officials say they reject the claims that there is no enforcement in the Haredi sector. One official said the photos in which large-scale gatherings are seen in the Haredi community are events where police were late to arrive at the site, and that police actually prevent the holding of most of mass events.

“The Israel Police do more enforcement than any other police force in the world,” said an official. “In the end we’re a national police force and we’re ordered to enforce equally everywhere, and in a place where there are unsupervised gatherings, whether in the Haredi or the Arab community, we will act with determination and full force. Anyone who says that the police don’t enforce [the coronavirus regulations], I must say that it’s an entirely incorrect conclusion.”

At the same time, police are warning that they will deal harshly with violations during the stringencies of the present lockdown. They are expected to deploy 5,000 officers across the country and spread out at checkpoints on the intercity highways and at entrances and exits from cities. During the daytime hours in the center of the country, police are not expected to set up checkpoints, so as not to cause traffic jams.

Most of the checkpoints are expected to go up at 7 P.M. and last until the next morning at 7 A.M. “We won’t nitpick with someone who was 1,200 meters from home instead of 1,000 meters, but this time we’ll be much stricter and enforce the rules more seriously, and for anyone who is at a significant distance from home, the lockdown will definitely be enforced.”

As with previous lockdowns, police plan to focus on preventing gatherings, the opening of places of business in violation of the law, and enforcing isolation orders.

“The prevalence of the coronavirus is a challenge, to say the least, and we intend to enforce the regulations, in the hope that we’re entering a tight lockdown for the last time,” said a police official. “It’s clear that the more exemptions there are, the more the public will have 1,000 reasons to explain to a policeman why they’re outdoors. But as the restrictions become tougher, we adapt. This time we won’t give policemen total leeway to use their own judgment with the citizen. There will be more policemen outside.”

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