Israel’s Schools and Universities Close

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel has risen to 127, with most of the country now shut down and public life severely curbed under new government restrictions.

As with the situation in the UK, the increasing cases have led officials to estimate that thousands of people may be infected without having been diagnosed.

Israel’s schools and universities were closed from Friday morning, as Benjamin Netanyahu called on people to “refrain as much as possible from gatherings in general.”

Health Ministry instructions have banned gatherings of more than 100 people, and the chief rabbis have warned religious Jews to avoid visiting the Western Wall. Theatres have closed and sporting events have been cancelled.

The Cameri Theatre in IsraelThe Cameri Theatre in Israel (photo: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Tens of thousands of Israelis are now in home quarantine, including at least 2,479 healthcare workers – 1,174 of whom are hospital employees. That number includes 949 doctors, 635 nurses and 171 paramedics.

This has led the National Association of Nurses in Israel to demand that the Health Ministry implements measures to protect medical staff from the virus.

During a press conference on Thursday evening, when Benjamin Netanyahu announced the new restrictions, he said:

"We are working to develop innovative testing methods.
We must get to better results, but for now, the best way to minimize the rate of infection
is isolation and keeping a distance."

Then he called for the formation of a unity government to address the emergency:

“An emergency government was established 53 years ago in Israel.
I call for the establishment of a similar government now; this evening.
It will be an emergency government for a limited amount of time,
let’s leave politics aside. Later we can return to the same position.”

Sadly, the initial discussions about this possibility do not seem to have gone well.