Chareidi Cities Are No Longer ‘Red’ But Netanyahu Has Ordered to Leave Them Under Closure

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli police officers patrol to reinforce the lockdown and distribute new face masks to a passerby in Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in Yerushalayim, currently a “restricted zone,” on Monday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The chareidi cities of Modi’in Illit, Beitar Ilit and Rechasim have succeeded in fighting the coronavirus and since the level of local morbidity has dropped, they have become “orange cities.” While according to the official outline, the closure was supposed to go down immediately once they are no longer “red,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu clarified during a tour of Rambam Hospital in Haifa on Monday that in the meantime, the cities will not leave the closure.

During Friday’s discussion in the Corona Cabinet, it was agreed that cities that turn orange will automatically exit the closure.

Yet Netanyahu said that for the cities to be removed from the full closure, “it depends on compliance with the guidelines. I call on the chareidi public to follow the guidelines. It’s up to you, so we’ll get out of this.”

On Sunday, the chairman of the Constitution Committee, MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher, wrote a letter to the prime minister requesting that the procedure be clarified that the closure be removed automatically as soon as the city drops from the definition of a “red city” to an “orange city,” but this was not done in practice.

The prime minister’s decision is also backed by other ministers, who explain that following the violations of the opening of Talmudei Torah studies, it makes no sense to lift the closure.

The chairman of the United Torah Judaism faction, MK Rabbi Yitzchak Pindrus, also sharply attacked the decision: “The cat is now out of the bag. The closure of the chareidi public is not a professional matter, as we have said all the time, and this unprofessionalism has now been seen, without any reflection to the number of patients [in a city].

“I call on the MKs to convene immediately and cancel the traffic light plan, which is not a plan to reduce morbidity, and to remove the besieged chareidi cities from the closure following the real drop in morbidity.”

Chairman of the Knesset’s Public Inquiries Committee, MK Rabbi Yaakov Tessler, said: “Netanyahu’s announcement that the chareidi cities will be closed even though they are now ‘orange’ only confirms the public’s sense of decisions being taken not for professional reasons. We expect the prime minister to rise above any foreign consideration and make a decision in accordance with the traffic light layout.”