Curfew Plan Put Under Quarantine

YERUSHALAYIM -
Donuts on display at a bakery/restaurant ahead of the Hanukkah festival, outside the Mahane Yehuda Market in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The government was reconsidering its decision to impose a nightly curfew from the day before Chanukah to January 2, after encountering legal obstacles, according to media reports on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that “alternatives” to the plan are being explored, and that scheduled cabinet meeting this evening will be delayed as a result.

In view of the dissenting position of Health Ministry officials including coronavirus commissioner Nachman Ash, who argue that a nighttime curfew will be ineffective in stemming the coronavirus, the Justice Ministry questioned whether the measure could withstand a legal test, according to a Channel 12 report.

The coronavirus omnibus law passed earlier this year stipulates that such sweeping restrictions on the movement of citizens may only be imposed when there is no viable alternative and when their efficacy is clear.

Representatives of the attorney general said Tuesday that they would not be able to defend the government’s decision if challenged in court.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday morning that the objective of the curfew was to avert a full lockdown and buy time for the effects of a national vaccination campaign to take hold.

“Starting tomorrow, we will implement a plan whose goal is to reduce morbidity while trying to avoid a lockdown,” he said in a briefing to reporters. “It is also important to understand that the end is in sight. The vaccines will arrive very soon, already in the coming days, but as in war, people must not die in vain.”

The curfew plan drew sharp criticism on different grounds from chareidi representatives earlier in the day. “Once again, the authorities chose to attack Chagei Yisrael,” they said.

“While in other countries, they had their lockdowns ahead of the Gregorian-calendar holidays, to enable people to celebrate without restriction, once again Israel has timed it to perfection, like ahead of the Tishrei chagim.”