This past week has seen an escalation of sorts in Israel. As of Sunday, Ben Gurion Airport was shut down for at least two weeks, and the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc within the country’s borders. While over 2.7 million Israelis have received the vaccine, half of them the full dose, there are still people battling the extended lockdown, the business closures, and the political unrest within Israel’s leadership.
One of the most affected populations, the ultra-Orthodox Haredi community in Israel, is not only being infected with COVID-19, but doesn’t seem to understand that it is likely due to their continued gatherings, which include synagogues prayers, open schools, and massive weddings. The police, in attempts to shut down these gatherings, are seeing more Haredi youth members fighting back against them. While at first there was an alleged agreement to allow Haredi gatherings to proceed, the community’s blatant disregard of public health has become an alarming threat to public safety.
There have been more and more clashes, especially in communities such as Bnei Brak, Beitar Illit, Beit Shemesh, and Mea Shearim. Israel Police say that “On Sunday night we had to deal with serious disturbances in the city of Bnei Brak, in which lawbreakers attacked civilians and caused extensive damage to property, including setting fire to a bus while attempting to harm emergency and rescue personnel and endangering the entire law-abiding population.”
Likely due to lack of leadership, some believe that the Haredim are not being properly cautioned of their impacts, and do not understand the seriousness of their actions. As some of these communities remain bent on fighting authority, coronavirus continues to make waves across the country.
Hadassah Hospital has recently opened up a pediatric ward for children, 50,000 of whom have contracted the coronavirus. About 50% of students are said to be from the Haredi community. While it may have a different impact on younger children, the thought to reopen schools might be delayed due to the ease at which children can pass the virus.
The British strain of COVID-19 has been found in children, as well as a number of pregnant women, who are being recommended to receive the vaccine. However, the World Health Organization does not recommend they take the Moderna vaccine, leaving many women confused and uncertain about how to move forward.
For now, Israel remains in lockdown mode until January 31.