COVID-19 testing site in Israel torched by extremists


(JTA) — A COVID-19 testing site in Bnei Brak, a mostly haredi Orthodox city in Israel, was set ablaze on Monday evening by extremists, according to The Jerusalem Post. No one was harmed in the attack.

The testing site is operated by Hatzalah, the Jewish ambulance corps, and run entirely on donations. Eli Beer, the CEO of Hatzalah in Israel, recovered from the coronavirus earlier this year.

“The fact that people don’t want to get tested is absurd,” Beer said. “As someone who was very ill because of this virus, I cannot stress enough how important it is that we all do our part to combat it.”

The attack comes amid tensions between some parts of the haredi Orthodox community and the government over responses to the pandemic and as the country faces the possibility of another lockdown.

It also coincides with the glimmers of hope for a post-pandemic future as Israel began vaccinating its elderly population this week. A number of Orthodox leaders were among those who were photographed getting the vaccination in a bid to shore up public trust in the vaccine.

It is “no secret that there are a group of people in the city who [oppose] testing,” Effi Feldman, head of the Bnei Brak chapter of Hatzalah, said in a statement, according to The Jerusalem Post. Feldman said the group would resume testing as soon as it can replace the equipment damaged in the fire.

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