Police Shift Strategy to Enforce Lockdown

Police stop a person walking with no protection mask in Emek Refaim, Yerushalayim, on Thursday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

As Sukkos approaches on Friday at sundown, Israeli police have announced a shift in its strategy of enforcing the coronavirus lockdown, to a more mobile deployment.

The police will be relying less on static checkpoints and more on motorcycles and patrol cars to randomly question people about their reasons for being on the roadways, according to Ynet on Thursday. Except for “essential activities,” the new regulations call for people to remain within 1 kilometer of their residence.

A senior police official said the change in enforcement strategy is in order to “maximize results for effective enforcement” in light of numerous breaches of Health Ministry regulations in recent days.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Wednesday that “sukkas are enclosed spaces,” and as such are subject to the limits on gatherings. Accordingly, ministers approved fines of 500 shekels ($145) for anyone caught in a sukkah not their own.

However, police have said that they do not intend to go into private sukkahs and check for violators. Large sukkas meant to hold crowds of people will be treated strictly, in accordance with the law.

The ban on visiting another person’s sukkah will remain in force for two days after the festival ends.

In the past week, 22,981 fines were levied on people for breaking the coronavirus lockdown regulations. Police have said that 3,482 of the fines were given to people who left their homes without a valid reason, and 6,689 to people who did not wear masks. The report did not give a geographical breakdown of where the violations occurred.