Israel tightens emergency lockdown regulations — and Netanyahu vows they’ll be enforced


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel is tightening its guidelines to slow the spread of the coronavirus — and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that law enforcement will make sure the new Health Ministry rules are taken seriously.

The emergency lockdown regulations will be in effect for the next seven days, Netanyahu said in a televised address Thursday night announcing the guidelines. He said not enough Israelis were adhering to the original regulations.

“You are ordered to stay at home,” he said. “This isn’t a request, this isn’t a recommendation, but a binding requirement that will be enforced.”

Israelis will be able to leave home for groceries, medical treatment and other essential services. They may drive to work if their place of work is still open.

The number of coronavirus cases in Israel climbed to 573 cases on Thursday evening.

Netanyahu, who has been accused of using the crisis for political gain, stressed that he is announcing the restrictions due to the pandemic and not because of politics. He called on Benny Gantz and his Blue and White party to form a national unity government in order to safeguard the country during the crisis.

Blue and White earlier in the day announced that it had cut off negotiations over a unity government, calling them “political spin.”

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