Israel is preparing to tighten lockdown measures for the second time nationwide due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that the country is on “the edge of the abyss.”
The new measures, which must be approved by Parliament, see more workplaces close and additional restrictions on movement imposed.
Jewish religious temples will welcome small groups of citizens next week to celebrate Yom Kippur (Yom Kippur), the holiest of the Jewish holidays.
The move came after the daily number of new COVID-19 cases exceeded 8,000.
This is one of the highest rates of infection in the world in terms of population.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, Israel has recorded 1,335 deaths from the Coronavirus, and more than 206,000 people have been infected.
The Israeli government had received international attacks with its early efforts and measures during the spring of last spring to contain the outbreak of Covid-19, which resulted in a very low death rate compared to other countries, but it was widely criticized for losing control after the first closure was eased last May.
The virus outbreak returned quickly, and last Friday the country recorded its highest rates in terms of new daily infections, which exceeded 5,000 cases, and Israel became the first country to re-impose a nationwide lockdown.
Schools were closed, and the authorities required citizens to stay within one kilometer of their homes, with the exception of going to work, essential shopping, exercising in the open air, and attending religious services and protests.
Jewish religious synagogues were allowed to remain open, but maintaining the application of social distancing rules limited the number of worshipers who were permitted to enter during the Jewish New Year.
The ministers also decided to impose tougher restrictions on Thursday, after a continuous increase in the infection rate and the health centers came under increasing pressure.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The rate of disease infection in Israel is increasing, and the number of critically ill patients is increasing, and so is the number of deaths, unfortunately.”
He added, “During the past two days, we heard from experts that if we do not take immediate and strict measures, we will reach the brink of the abyss. In order to save the lives of Israeli citizens, we must impose a two-week closure.”
The new measures are expected to take effect from 14:00 local time (11:00 GMT) on Friday, and to continue even after the end of the Jewish holiday of Tabernacles on 11 October.
Israeli media reported that the measures would include closing all businesses that are not “necessary”.
Religious temples will be closed except for Yom Kippur, which falls on next Sunday, and at other times, only open-air prayers will be allowed, with a maximum of 20 people attending.
It also appears that street protests will be limited to 20 people at a time, which may put an end to the large demonstrations that have been held for weeks against Netanyahu.
Reports indicate that the prime minister’s opponents accused him of using the measures as a cover to stop the opposition, especially since he had previously described the rallies against him as a farce.
Demonstrators gathered outside the prime minister’s house in Jerusalem every week to demand his resignation during his trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, while Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.