Police Tackle Rise in Coronavirus Violations

Israeli police enforcing a night curfew at the entrance to Ramot, Yerushalayim on Wednesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The task of Israeli police to enforce the coronavirus restrictions has proven more difficult than expected, and acting police chief Motti Cohen ordered commanders to ramp-up their efforts as a curfew of 40 cities and towns went into its second night on Wednesday.

Police are having to take a more active role than before, shifting from patrolling streets and checking pedestrians and motorists, to dispersing illegal gatherings and handing out fines.

Violations have been reported in various parts of the country. Two chassanahs—one in Haifa, the other in Ramot—violated the health regulations for large gatherings, according to the Times of Israel. In the latter case, police broke up the gathering and fined the organizer 5,000 shekels.

A large party held by high school students in Yeruham resulted in at least 28 confirmed coronavirus cases, dozens sent into mandatory quarantine and the closure of the students’ school, Channel 12 news reported Wednesday.

In all, the past week has seen 13 mass events broken up by law enforcement, and 10 event halls in violation of coronavirus restrictions were closed. In 24 hours from Tuesday night to Wednesday night, 1,213 fines were imposed for coronavirus-related violations such as not wearing a mask or observing social distancing.

A minyan held outside an apartment building in Ramot, Yerushalayim, on Wednesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Although the large gatherings were deliberate, it appeared that in many individual cases non-compliance was the result of confusion over the ever-changing rules. For the most part, Israelis were trying to cooperate.

The Health Ministry said Wednesday that 3,563 new coronavirus cases were confirmed over the previous day — the highest daily figure since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The ministry reported five new deaths Wednesday, bringing the toll to 1,053. It said over 2,300 new infections had been recorded from midnight to 7 p.m. alone on Wednesday.

There are 31,263 active patients in the country with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The number of patients in serious condition has risen to 478, with a 143 of them on ventilators, matching a record high reached Tuesday.