In Israel, the second wave of Covid-19 mainly affects ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities

Ultra-Orthodox follow social distancing measures during morning prayers in Bnei Brak (northeastern suburb of Tel Aviv) on September 8.

Israel passed the milestone of 1,000 Covid-19 deaths at unimaginable speed this weekend. At the start of the summer, the country was proud to be among the “good students” of the planet: it had stemmed the first wave of the epidemic, by closing its borders early and confining it quickly. However, here it is discovered one of the highest rates of contamination in the world, with 3,000 new cases daily during the past week.

In proportion to the number of cases, this small country of 9 million people is in a worse position than that of Brazil, India or the United States, according to data from the World Health Organization, or those from Johns Hopkins University of America. Faced with this explosive situation, the Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, considered on September 3 to reconfine a dozen cities classified as “red”, according to a color code established by the health authorities.

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Most of them are strongholds of Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities, the poorest in the country. To isolate them while the country continues to live “normally” would be politically explosive. On Sunday September 6, the government therefore backed down. Against the advice of experts, he wants to impose a simple curfew from Monday evening, at the earliest, in about forty cities, the full list of which remains to be published. Schools will in theory be closed and police will be deployed at the entrances to these towns, but not necessarily inside.

Since the summer, the government has seemed to arbitrate haphazardly, never ceasing to go back on the attendance limits imposed on restaurants, synagogues, ritual baths, gyms… This is in part the result of a empty at the top of the State: the Council of Ministers has not met for a month. Too divided, he remains unable to vote a budget. The political climate is deleterious.


In July, a senior coordinator was appointed to reintroduce consistency. Ronni Gamzu, a reputable official with no known political ambition, is working to decentralize the fight against the virus, to give mayors major responsibility and to have them supported by the army. But he was clumsy: in August, he compared the rise in contamination in the Arab neighborhoods of Israel to “Terrorist attacks. ” Then, last week, he dared to criticize head-on the chief rabbi of the ultra-Orthodox community.

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