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Israeli Authorities Isolate Jewish Town Hit Hard by COVID-19

Israeli Authorities Isolate Jewish Town Hit Hard by COVID-19

Saturday, 4 April, 2020 - 04:45
Kids play on blacony in Bnei Brak. Reuters
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat

Israeli authorities on Friday announced the Jewish town of Bnei Brak as a "restricted zone" putting up roadblocks to seal it off after it was badly affected by the new coronavirus.

Security forces were told to implement new measures, cordon off major streets and to be stationed where needed to support residents.

At least 38 deaths linked to the coronavirus and over 7,000 infections were officially announced by Israel. However, medical experts estimate that as many as 38% of Bnei Brak’s 200,000 residents are infected.

The new designation allows authorities to tighten curbs on public movement, especially that residents did not initially adhere to safety measures announced to fight the pandemic.

“Bnei Brak is on lockdown, as of this morning, and police will prevent any movements in or out of the city,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

“People are only allowed in or out for medical reasons or medical support.”

Bnei Brak’s population, many of them choosing study of scripture and traditional large families over a more worldly lifestyle, often live in very close proximity to one another in impoverished neighborhoods, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, in Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday night extended a state of emergency for a second month, to early May.

The renewed measures targeted schools, calling to extend their closure.

Also, movement between cities would remain prohibited and citizens would continue to be required to mostly stay at home, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said in a speech on Friday.

Palestinians in the area have reported one death and 181 cases of COVID-19, with 12 additional cases in the Gaza Strip.

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