Israel — Knesset Votes to Limit Protests During Lockdown

  • People will be allowed to demonstrate only 1 kilometer from their homes
  • Israel has surpassed the United State in daily fatalities per capita
  • A petition was made against this decision to be decided upon by October 7

Israel is in a lockdown for at least the next few weeks. As result, many businesses are closed. Schools are closed, even though the period of the lockdown falls during the holiday season, when schools would be closed anyway. However, there are many restrictions on holiday celebrations.

Head of Army supervising over Lockdown in Israel.

Usually during holidays, the secular Israelis gather in parks and at the beaches, making large family gatherings and barbecues. The lockdown will limit the amount of people who are permitted to be gathered for holiday celebration. This also includes prayer gatherings, which are especially important to the religious community.

Synagogues were allowed open for one day, Yom Kippur, but will be closed for the whole period of the holidays until the end of the lockdown. The Wailing Wall will be empty, where people would gather during the holidays, a custom from the time of the holy temple, when Jews would come from all over the country on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

The situation of the Coronavirus in Israel has deteriorated terribly. Israel has recently surpassed the United States in the number of daily fatalities per capita from COVID -19. There is a broad increase in contagion in all sectors of the population in all parts of the country. Israel reached an infection rate of more than 14%, and more than 8,000 news cases in one day.

The lockdown may be extended to at least a month. Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein said that the lockdown will end with a graduated reopening of the economy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the number of cases is climbing. There are more than 800 people in serious condition.

The appointed Coronavirus Czar, Ronni Gamzu, is expected to resign at the end of the lockdown. The former director general of the Minister of Health, Moshe Bar Siman Tov, is expected to take over.

The controversy over demonstrations during the Pandemic has been temporarily resolved. The Knesset voted 46 to 38 to limit demonstrations. Limiting demonstrations is controversial in a democracy. The courts had ruled that demonstrations could not be limited by Netanyahu until it was decided in the Knesset.

These demonstrations had mostly been in front of the house of Netanyahu, in Balfour. People came from all over Israel to participate in these demonstrations. There is a danger of spreading Coronavirus infection in large groups.

Moshe Bar Siman Tov will replace Ronni Gamzu as Director General of the Coronavirus Pandemic (Coronavirus Czar).

The religious parties complained that if demonstrations would be allowed, prayer gatherings should also be allowed. The objection of the religious parties helped to keep synagogues open on the New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and the High Holiday, Yom Kippur. Synagogues are now closed indefinitely. 

Benny Gantz, who joined Netanyahu from the opposition, delayed the process of limitation of demonstrations until there was a vote in the Knesset because of the severity of limitation of demonstrations in a democracy. The decision was finally made.

After an all-night debate, the Knesset ratified an edict which bans Israelis from holding demonstrations more than 1 kilometer from their homes. Critics called the bill a blow to democracy. For weeks, thousands of demonstrators have gathered in front of the house of Netanyahu to call for him to resign.

Immediately after the decision, a petition was made to permit mass protests. The court gave the government until October 7 to respond to this petition.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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