Coronavirus Israel Live: Government Approves Lockdown on Independence Day, Ramadan

Israel reverses trend with more recoveries than infections ■ 14,592 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel, 191 dead ■ With 314 cases, Palestinians ease lockdown in West Bank

new-hdc-logo
Haaretz
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Israeli police officers block main roads at the entrance to a Tel Aviv suburb to curb the spread on the coronavirus, Ramat Gan, April 14, 2020.
Israeli police officers block main roads at the entrance to a Tel Aviv suburb to curb the spread on the coronavirus, Ramat Gan, April 14, 2020. Credit: Meged Gozani
new-hdc-logo
Haaretz

For new updates click here

14,592 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 191 people have died. In the West Bank, 314 cases have been diagnosed so far. Two have died. In Gaza, 17 cases have been diagnosed, eight of which have recovered.

0:00
-- : --
Corona keeps Bibi in power and unmasks the MossadCredit: Haaretz

■ On Monday, Israel's Health Ministry confirmed the daily number of recoveries had overtaken the number of infections over past three days, reversing the trend

■ The Israeli government approved a series of steps to ease the lockdown restrictions, including allowing group prayer, partial reopening of the economy and certain stores, and fines for not wearing masks in public

■ Coronavirus tracker: Live statistics of cases and deaths in Israel and worldwide ■ Do's and don'ts: Israel's Ministry explains coronavirus restrictions

■ The government decided to relax curfew regulations on the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, a coronavirus hotspot, as well as a curfew on Jerusalem neighborhoods with a high infection rate; a curfew was imposed on the Arab town of Deir al-Asad in the Galilee

■ There will be no Ramadan prayers in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque, the Waqf religious authorities announced, as some fear a spike in coronavirus cases could happen during Islam's holiest month

LIVE UPDATES

9:18 A.M. Israel’s coronavirus death toll rises to 191, as confirmed cases surpass 14,500

The Health Ministry said 191 Israelis have died from the coronavirus, adding that 14,592 have tested positive for the virus so far, of which 107 are on respirators and 5,334 have recovered. (Haaretz)

Wednesday

9:15 P.M. Despite curfew, police to let bereaved congregate in cemeteries on Memorial Day

Israel Police do not intend to confront bereaved families to prevent them from entering cemeteries and memorial sites on Memorial Day, despite curfew orders, law enforcement sources say.

"We will work with maximum sensitivity," the sources told Haaretz.

According to regulations approved on Wednesday by Israel’s cabinet, intercity travel will be banned on from Monday, 4 P.M. until end of day Tuesday, during the annual day to commemorate Israel's fallen. According to the directives announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, cemetery gates are meant to be locked. (Josh Breiner)

People wearing masks in Jerusalem, April 2020.
People wearing masks in Jerusalem, April 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

9:05 P.M. Israel sees drop in people on ventilators

According to the Health Ministry, 14,498 Israelis have contracted the virus. Of those, 106 are on ventilators and 189 have died. So far, 5,215 have recovered. (Haaretz

7:35 P.M. Israeli soldiers distribute food to Jaffa residents ahead of Ramadan

Home Front Command soldiers are helping the Tel Aviv Municipality in distributing food to elderly people in Jaffa ahead of the month of Ramadan.

The municipality, in cooperation with the Welfare Ministry, NGOs and independent donors, has distributed over the past month thousands of toys, food packages and meals to hundreds of elderly people and needy families in Jaffa. (Haaretz)

6:21 P.M. Over 10,000 Israelis file for unemployment benefits amid coronavirus crisis

Israel’s employment service said that 10,873 people have filed for unemployment benefits on Wednesday, up from 7,565 on Tuesday, despite the government’s announcement of a series of steps to ease coronavirus restrictions on Sunday.    

Since the beginning of this week, 3,131 people who were put on unpaid leave said they have returned to work. (Lee Yaron)    

5:24 P.M. Israel carried out over 11,000 coronavirus tests in past two days, Health Ministry data shows

The Health Ministry said that it had performed 11,422 coronavirus tests on Tuesday and 13,342 on Monday, surpassing it initial goal of 10,000 tests per day. (Haaretz)

4:31 P.M. Israel approves coronavirus curfew on Independence Day, Ramadan

The Israeli government approved a nationwide closure on Memorial Day commemorating Israel's fallen soldiers, Israel Independence Day and the month of Ramadan, as part of the emergency regulations to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Memorial Day

Starting Wednesday and until Memorial Day eve on Monday at 4 P.M. Israelis will be allowed to leave the house to visit military cemeteries and official memorial sites for fallen IDF soldiers and terror victims.

After Monday at 4 P.M. and on Memorial Day itself on Tuesday people will be barred from visiting cemeteries and memorial sites. 

Israeli police with protective masks patrol an ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem, April 19, 2020.
Israeli police with protective masks patrol an ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem, April 19, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Independence Day

Starting Tuesday at 5 P.M. until Wednesday at 8 P.M. Israelis will be allowed to leave their homes only to purchase medical supplies and essential necessities. Those requiring essential services will also be allowed to leave their homes, but must stay within their communities, unless those essential services are not provided there.

Public transportation will also be suspended until the end of Independence Day.

People celebrating Independence Day must do so at home. Buying food during Independence Day eve and the holiday itself will be forbidden. Israelis will be allowed to exercise and leave the house to “get some air” in the vicinity of their home, similar to the regulation announced on Passover seder.

Ramadan

In communities whose population is mainly Muslim, businesses and stores will be closed from 6 P.M. and 3 A.M. the next day, excluding pharmacies. Businesses, however, will be permitted to operate delivery services. These regulations will come into effect on Thursday, when Muslims begin marking the month of Ramadan and until May 3.

Additional regulations

The government approved additional emergency regulations which permit leaving the house for a job interview, holding weddings in open areas and with the attendance of up to 19 people while maintaining at least a two-meter distance between each participant. (Noa Landau)

4:07 P.M. Israel allows four Gazans with Israeli ID card to return to Strip

For the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Israel approved the request of four Gaza residents who hold an Israeli identification card to leave Israel and reunite with their families in the coastal enclave.

The Gisha non-profit organization, which advocates for the freedom of movement for Palestinians, filed the request on behalf of the four Gazans who entered Israel to visit their relatives before the coronavirus erupted and then had to stay in Israel some four months.

The Gazans requested to return to the Strip immediately after the outbreak, but their request was denied. Noe they will have to enter 21-day quarantine in Gaza. In addition, Israel notified the four that if they wish to enter Israel again, they would have to enter 14-day isolation and will have to stay in Israel until the end of the coronavirus crisis.  

Israel stressed that allowing the Gazans to return to the Strip is not a sweeping policy, adding that it is currently examining similar requests. Gisha said that to their knowledge, two families in Gaza are currently trying to arrange the return of their relatives to the Strip from Israel.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) refused to provide Haaretz with data about the number of families whose relatives are awaiting approval from Israel to return to the enclave. (Hagar Shezaf)

3:10 P.M. Israel freezes bill to allow police surveillance of suspected coronavirus patients 

Watching the sunset on Tel Aviv's seaside promenade after coronavirus restrictions were eased, April 19, 2020.
Watching the sunset on Tel Aviv's seaside promenade after coronavirus restrictions were eased, April 19, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod

The Israeli government froze the bill permitting the police to track the cellphones of suspected coronavirus patients who are in quarantine.

As of Wednesday night, the police will be barred from tracking those individuals, as they have done thus far. The police, however, will still be allowed to pay surprise home visits, overseeing people are not violating quarantine.

The bill, which was supposed to allow the police to track cellphones of 500 indivisulas per day, was frozen following deliberations in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Sources familiar with the matter told Haaretz that suspending the bill stemmed from questions that came up during the deliberations. (Noa Landau and Jonathan Lis)

2:47 P.M. Health Ministry official says there may more waves of virus 

Deputy Health Ministry Director Prof. Itamar Grotto said in an interview with ynet that "it's possible to say that the current wave has most probably exhausted itself." So, he said, "we need to see that we act quickly. Every 200 new people [infected with the virus] in a day could always have the potential to be a big flame." Therefore, he added that 'we should make sure that we put it out quickly, explaining that an outbreak could be met with intervention, if there will be a need."

2:13 P.M. After a month-long closure, Israeli zoos reopen

Israel's zoos opened this morning after being closed for more than a month. According to the zoo organization, today the follow zoos will reopen: Ramat Gan Safari, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, the Negev Zoo in Be'er Sheva, Gan Buru in Nir David, the Haifa Zoo and the Hai Park in Kiryat Motzkin.

According to the announcement, tickets will sold in advance and admission will be permitted to specific hours, with attendance being limited to two hours. Visitors are required to keep a distance from each other and pass and have their temperature checked at the zoo entrance. Visitors are also required to wear masks inside the zoos. (Nir Hasson)

9:32 A.M. 14,326 Israelis have been diagnosed with virus, 187 have died

According to Health Ministry figues, 14,326 people have been diagnosed with the coroavirus in Israel, of which 111 on ventilators, and 148 are in serious condition. Meanwhile, 187 people have died of the virus and 4,961 Israelis have recovered.

TUESDAY

10:00 P.M. Interior Minister to allow business owners exemption from paying property tax for three months

Israel's Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced monday that he signed regulations that would allow local authorities to grant businesses three months' exemption from paying property taxes. However, local authorities will be able to choose an alternative route of providing a total discount of 25% on the municipal tax payment for 2020. According to the announcement, a budget of 2.8 billion shekels ($ 788 million) will be allocated to compensate the local authorities for the loss of income. (Lee Yaron)

8:45 P.M. Israel's confirmed cases reach 13,942, death toll at 184

According to the Health Ministry, 13,942 Israelis have contracted the coronavirus. Of those, 4,507 have recovered, 139 in serious condition, and 113 are currently on ventilators.

7:50 P.M. Netanyahu announces closure on Independence Day

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel will be under full closure on Independence Day, similarly to Passover. Netanyahu also announced that this year people will not be allowed to visit cemeteries or memorial sites on Memorial Day, which police will close the access routes to. Instead, bereaved families were called to visit cemeteries in the days leading up to Memorial Day, with limited visitations in accordance with social distancing regulations. (Noa Landau)

6:50 P.M. Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians advises against phone surveillance of coronavirus patients 

The Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians forwarded to the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committees, MK Gabi Ashkenazi, a position paper in which it was argued that at this stage of the coronavirus spread there is no justification for using the surveillance measures used by the state to locate patients and enforce their isolation.

The committee is currently debating the Criminal Procedure Bill (Enforcement Powers - Communications Data) which authorizes the police to obtain the cellular data of coronavirus patients or those who should be in isolation according to a list produced by the Health Ministry. "There is no evidence of the effectiveness of these measures in reducing the spread, and they can also jeopardize public health and public trust at the expense of using common and effective tools for epidemiological investigations," write the union's representatives.

Doctors say that there are acceptable alternatives to surveillance, saying they should expand the use of district physicians' powers, increase epidemiological investigations, and incorporate additional personnel to do so. Among other things, the association recommend increasing the use of laboratory tests for the asymptomatic population; Strengthening personnel and establishing a national or regional call center; Operation of the National Center for Disease Control. (Rafaella Goichman)

6:40 P.M. Two more coronavirus cases found in Gaza

Two more Palestinians tested positive for coronavirus in the Gaza Strip, raising total number of cases to 17, eight of which have already recovered, reports the Health Ministry in the Strip. (Jack Khoury)

6:30 P.M. Experimental coronavirus treatment with blood of recovered patients shows initial success 

Israeli doctors treating coronavirus patients with the plasma of those who have already recovered from the illness report seeing improvement in the patients’ condition after the experimental treatment. 

The first plasma treatment for the virus  in Israel was undertaken at the Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center near Tel Aviv on April 9, and 12 additional hospitals throughout the country have begun incorporating it since. As of today, 37 coronavirus patients in mild to serious condition have been treated with plasma donated by patients who have recovered. The treatment consists of two doses, the second administered 24 hours after the first, according to a treatment protocol formulated by the Health Ministry.

The medical basis of plasma treatments is the assumption that patients who have recovered have developed antibodies against the virus, and administering a concentrated amount to patients will help their bodies recover from the disease. Antibody treatments are a recognized medical practice, used to treat measles, rabies and other maladies.

Doctors added that they are not sure whether this improvement is due to the plasma treatments, due to  other treatments patients underwent at the same time, or if it happened spontaneously as part of the virus’s process.

In the case of COVID-19, the medical basis for these treatments is still uncertain at this point, and is based mainly on Chinese studies that included 10 patients, and an additional study of just three patients. (Ido Efrati)

5:00 P.M. Israel Police began enforcing order to wear masks outside the home

Israel Police began to enforce the order to wear a mask outside the home. According to police data, 31 fines totaling NIS 200 ($56) have so far been distributed to civilians who violated the regulations. According to regulations approved by the government earlier this week, it is mandatory to wear a mask upon leaving the house and to wear it in closed buildings, traveling in public transport and gathering in an open place. A citizen who disobeys the guidelines will receive an alert for the first time and will be fined NIS 200 ($56) for the second time. (Josh Breiner)

4:30 P.M. Health Ministry: over 12,000 coronavirus tests conducted Monday

The Health Ministry published the number of coronavirus diagnostic tests done in recent days. According to ministry data, 12,281 tests were conducted on Monday - a record number so far. 

It was also reported that 9,419 tests were conducted on Sunday, 10,012 tests on Saturday and 10,038 on Friday. (Ido Efrati)

1:36 P.M. Cabinet approves extending emergency regulations for Israelis returning from abroad

The cabinet has approved the extension until May 6 of emergency regulations that require Israelis returning from abroad, or those who are supposed to self-isolate but cannot, to enter government-run quarantine facilities. (Noa Landau)

12:45 P.M. 13 residents, 7 employees at Bnei Brak retirement home test positive

Thirteen residents and seven employees at the Shlomo Mamelech retirement home in Bnei Brak were diagnosed with the coronavirus on Monday. None of the 20 showed any symptoms, and the 13 residents were brought to a geriatric center in Nes Tziona. The director of the nursing home says he believes the test results were mistaken and that he had requested further tests to make sure that the residents are not unnecessarily put near coronavirus patients by being sent to other locations. (Bar Peleg)

11:12 A.M. 100-year-old Israeli dies

A 100-year-old woman, a resident of Rehovot, has died of the coronavirus. Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot, said the woman's daughter was provided with full personal protective equipment so she could be with her before she died. (Haaretz)

10:30 A.M. Russia's confirmed coronavirus cases surge past 52,000 

Russia recorded 5,642 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its nationwide tally to 52,763, the Russian coronavirus crisis response centre said on Tuesday. Fifty-one people with the virus died in the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 456, it said.
The number of coronavirus cases in Russia began rising sharply this month, although it had reported far fewer infections than many western European countries in the outbreak's early stages. (Reuters)

8:45 A.M. Number of cases in Israel rises to 13,883

The Health Ministry says the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel has risen to 13,883. A hundred and forty-two patients are in serious condition, of whom 113 are on respirators. A total of 181 people have died. (Haaretz)

8:40 A.M. Man in Bedouin town of Rahat forcibly quarantined

A man in the Bedouin town of Rahat who was confirmed to have coronavirus but refused to enter government-run quarantine facilities as required has been forcibly quarantined. A statement from the police said the man was also fined 5,000 shekels ($1,400) and specified he did not resist security forces and medical personnel when they came by ambulance to collect him. (Almog Ben Zikri)

7:20 A.M. A 48-year-old Israeli man with no underlying conditions has died from the coronavirus 

Tel Aviv's Ichilov hospital said a 48-year-old Israeli man has passed away from the coronavirus. Its statement specified he did not suffer from underlying conditions. The new death brings the total number of coronavirus fatalities in Israel up to 178. (Bar Peleg) 

TUESDAY

11:17 P.M. Israeli gov’t approves aid package for restricted areas in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak

The government approved granting special assistance to neighborhoods declared as restricted areas in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, which were badly hit by the coronavirus. (Noa Landau)

22:30 P.M. Drive-thru coronavirus testing facilities will be stationed Tuesday in Qalansawa, Jaljulia and Zemer. 

9:20 P.M. Death toll from coronavirus at 177

According to the Health Ministry, 13,713 have contracted the coronavirus in Israel. Currently there are 119 patients on ventilators, and 4,049 have recovered.

7:28 P.M. Lockdown restrictions eased in West Bank

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced a series of steps to ease the coronavirus lockdown in the West Bank. Essential food and medical factories will operate at a 50% capacity, as will factories that export their products.

Small businesses will reopen on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday while retail shops selling clothing and electronics will open on Friday and Saturday. Construction site that are not in city centers will resume activity.

Schools, universities, and places of worship will remain closed and gatherings are prohibited, including family gatherings to break the Ramadan fast. (Jack Khoury)

6:10 A.M. Police begins enforcing order to wear face masks 

The Israel Police began enforcing new orders requiring all people in public spaces to wear face masks. In the first phase, officers will give people a warning and a face mask. In the second phase, violators will be given a 200 shekel fine. (Josh Breiner)

6:00 P.M. Health Minister recovers from COVID-19

Israel's Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has officially recovered from coronavirus after testing negative twice. "It was an opportunity for me to personally witness the dedicated work of our dear health workers," he said in a statement. (Jonathan Lis and Aaron Rebinowitz)  

2:47 P.M. Parliament permits lawmakers to vote via Zoom

The Knesset Regulatory Committee will allow lawmakers to participate in discussions and vote through the Zoom application if they are sick with COVID-19 or in quarantine due to contact with a confirmed patient. Lawmakers who are self-isolating because of pre-existing medical conditions were also permitted to participate from afar. (Jonathan Lis)

2:37 P.M. Nursing homes suffering from 15% staff shortage, coronavirus response chief says

The estimate was provided by Prof. Ronni Gamzu, who handles the coronavirus response in assisted living homes. (Bar Peleg and Ido Efrati)

2:00 P.M. Thermometer scammer arrested in Israel Police sting

A 25-year-old suspected of fraudulently purchasing hundreds of electronic thermometers was arrested following an undercover investigation, Israel Police said. 

A resident of the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Motzkin, the suspect apparently procured electronic thermometers without giving payment, with the aim of selling them on. Police valued the scam at 150,000 shekels (around USD 42,000).

1:51 P.M. Israel reverses trend, registers more recoveries than infections

The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 in Israel was greater than the number of new cases diagnosed over the past three days, the Health Ministry reported. On Sunday, 226 new cases of people diagnosed with the coronavirus were reported and 298 Israelis recovered from the disease, according to the ministry statistics.

For the first time since the crisis began in Israel the number of people recovering from COVID-19 has exceeded the number of new patients for three consecutive days; On Saturday, 283 new cases were found and 330 people recovered; and on Friday 224 new cases were diagnosed while 308 more people recovered. (Ido Efrati)

Read the full report

11:41 A.M. Despite relaxation of lockdown rules, rabbis recommend praying alone

Rabbis in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak issued a collective recommendation urging the faithful in the coronavirus hot spot to avoid collective prayer. (Bar Peleg

11:26 A.M. Five more cases confirmed in the West Bank, bringing total to 314

Five more people have tested positive for coronavirus, the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed. 

The total number of confirmed cases is now 314. There are a further 15 diagnosed patients in the Gaza Strip and 120 in East Jerusalem. (Jack Khoury)

9:22 A.M. Israel Health Ministry releases updated figures, 13,654 confirmed cases, 173 dead

The newest figures released by the ministry confirmed 163 more cases of coronavirus infection, up to 13,654. One more person died since the last update, released on Sunday night, bringing the total death toll to 173.

150 patients are in serious condition and 114 on respirators, while 3,872 have recovered. 

7:45 A.M. Two more people test positive for coronavirus in Gaza

A couple who returned to the Gaza Strip on April 15 through the Rafah Crossing with Egypt and were since kept in quarantine were diagnosed with COVID-19.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 15, out of which 8 have recovered. There are major concerns over the possibility of an outbreak in the coastal enclave. (Jack Khoury)

7:39 A.M. Israeli authorities decide to ease lockdown on Bnei Brak, Jerusalem neighborhoods

Israel's Ministry of Health announced last night in coordination with the Interior Ministry that the current closure orders on the ultra-Orthodox Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak and some Jerusalem neighborhoods would be eased.

The temporary lockdown ended at midnight on Sunday. Municipal authorities will now be encouraged to take diagnosed patients out of the city to specially set-up quarantine hotels.

SUNDAY

11:01 P.M. Five arrested as dozens clash with police in Jerusalem

Protesters threw stones and flooded the streets, contravening police orders in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem. Five were arrested and taken for questioning.

10:38 P.M. Ministerial committe to recommend expanding role of Shin Bet

The ministerial committe examining the role played by the police and Shin Bet in containing the coronavirus outbreak will likely recommend expanding the authority of the Shin bet security service.

The committe, comprised of four ministers from Netanyahu's Likud party, will recommend the prime minister to task the Shin Bet with increased monitoring of areas of infection.

In addition, the committee will recommend ordering all citizens to download a Helath Ministry mobile app that crosses users' location data with routes of confirmed patients. (Noa Landau) 

9:41 P.M. Police not enforcing regulations on wearing masks 

The police have yet to enforce the order on wearing face masks as it is having trouble formulating a clear protocol. According to regulations, people must wear a mask outdoors and in public transportation but the 200 shekels fine will be levied after a one-time warning. Additionally, people doing sports are not required to wear a mask.

The Public Security Minister noted that the new regulations are difficult to enforce - particularly the limitation on venturing more than 100 meters from one's home. The public is allowed to venture further than 100 meters if doing sports or shopping for essentials, an exception that Minister Gilad Erdan said creates a loophole in enforcement. 

Previous updates can be found here

Comments