HUNDREDS of Israelis yesterday protested in Tel Aviv against a second nationwide lockdown which is the first of such move in the world to tackle a renewed spike in coronavirus cases.
Their protest is coming as the country re-enters lockdown from 2:00pm today, hours before Jewish New Year, known as Rosh Hashana.
Under the new measures, residents will be limited to within 500 metres (yards) of their homes.
Exceptions to this rule include residents going out to buy medicine and food, as well as to attend a funeral or circumcision ceremony.
The Jewish state has the world’s second-highest detected virus infection rate after Bahrain.
This is happening despite Israel’s initial record for curbing coronavirus spread by imposing a stringent lockdown in March. But authorities have acknowledged that they were too quick to ease restrictions subsequently.
Speaking on nationwide television on the eve of the renewed lockdown, which was announced last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained that government had no choice.
“The health system has raised the red flag… We did everything we could to strike a balance between the (public) health needs and needs of the economy,” he said.
But Israel’s opposition chief, Yair Lapid, has condemned the measures.
“It’s a very aggressive move. It’s devastating for the economy and it’s not helpful in terms of stopping the epidemic. The only reason the government is imposing a new lockdown is that it’s completely lost… It’s failed completely to contain the coronavirus,” he said.
However, one of between 300 and 400 demonstrators in the coastal city of Tel Aviv who is a 60-year-old former employee of an architectural firm who lost her job in the crisis and, Yael, said “the economy is in free-fall, people are losing their jobs, they’re depressed. And all this for what? For nothing!”
It will be recalled that Israel has registered more than 172,000 coronavirus cases with 1,163 deaths, out of a population of nine million.