In Brief: Israel introduces new measures to battle covid as cases soar

Israel this week introduced a series of measures to combat the coronavirus as cases in the country soar. On Thursday morning, the Health Ministry confirmed 1,231 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 33,947. Two additional people have died, bringing the death toll to 346. After being praised for its early and tough lockdown, Israel saw new daily virus cases drop to low double digits through most of May. The number of Palestinians in the West Bank who have died from the virus rose by one overnight to 24. The West Bank currently has 4,390 active cases. The Palestinian health minister, Mai al-Kaila, announced yesterday that her ministry will recommend that the Palestinian Authority extend its five-day lockdown for another nine days. The Israeli cabinet is today considering proposals from its Health Ministry for a series of local lockdown in areas, including parts of Jerusalem, Ashdod and Modiin Illit, where there are currently a high number of cases. The ultra-Orthodox city of Beitar Illit was the only area of Israel in lockdown as of Thursday morning.

Two Israeli cabinet ministers – defence minister Benny Gantz and Jerusalem and heritage minister Rafi Peretz – are isolating after coming into contact with individuals who tested positive for the virus. As public approval for Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis drops sharply, the country’s president, Reuven Rivlin, took a swipe at the government, releasing a statement which said Israel had yet to “develop a clear and coherent ‘battle plan’ to combat the virus”. On Monday, the Knesset approved the closure of bars, clubs and gyms. The number of people allowed at restaurants, in places of worship and on public buses was also reduced.
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