Israel toughens containment, even if it’s expensive

Ultra-Orthodox Jews pray in a Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, Wednesday, September 23.

We are closing. After three days of debate, the Israeli government decided, Thursday, September 24, to intensify the containment in place for a week. Economic activity is reduced to essential services during the religious festivals of Yom Kippur and Sukkot, until October 11. A disaster scenario according to the Minister of the Economy, Israel Katz, which could cost more than 7 billion euros to the country. “It was possible to take measures to contain the disease, without dealing a fatal blow to factories and businesses which do not welcome the public, and which strictly adhere to the rules of the Ministry of Health,” regretted Thursday Mr. Katz.

In fact, the minister had the support of the coordinator of the fight against the coronavirus, Doctor Ronni Gamzu, who has been fighting publicly in recent days to only halve the activity of the private sector, and to better enforce the restrictions in place. . The police had been tolerant for a week: they spare a population increasingly prone to disobedience.

Read also Covid-19: Israel announces three-week national reconfinement

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu found during this debate the accents of the end of the world which were his during the first wave in the spring. In accordance with opinion polls, he intended to break the example of disobedience to sanitary rules that, according to him, are given by the thousands of demonstrators from all sides, who have gathered every weekend since June to demand his resignation, under the windows of his residence on Balfour Street, Jerusalem. At the same time, he said, he had to resign himself to forbidding the faithful from meeting en masse in synagogues for Kippur.

Synagogues will remain open

Mr. Netanyahu can be satisfied: no demonstrator living more than a kilometer away will be allowed to disturb his Saturday evenings. As for the synagogues, they will ultimately remain open. This arbitration opens a boulevard to accusations of partiality that are already raining down on a prime minister sued for corruption, and whose allies, political parties representing ultra-Orthodox Jews, threatened to let him go.

According to data from the public employment service, 150,000 people have already been fired or put on unpaid leave since the start of confinement. The Leket Israel charity also estimates that 145,000 people have plunged into food insecurity since March. As for the central bank, it fears a drop in GDP of 7% over the year.

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