Netanyahu Announces Full Lockdown Of Israel Ahead Of Passover

Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the entire country will enter complete lockdown starting 4 pm on Tuesday until 7 am Friday.

This will also include a mandated home-confinement for all citizens from Wednesday׳s Passover Seder until 7am on Thursday, with citizens only allowed to venture outside up to 100 meters from their home during that time. All travel between cities will be banned, which appears to have already begun to be enforced by police.

Netanyahu further indicated some restrictions will remain in effect for the full holiday week, with some likely to be lifted gradually following the Passover holiday. It's being interpreted as a controversial move to prevent families from traveling to gather for Passover.

Quarantined Haredi neighborhood in Israeli, file image.

Local media reports have suggested the move is in part a bid to open up the economy again after the intensive period of 'stay at home' orders.

Passover typically includes large family gatherings and heightened travel across the Jewish state, and the PM framed the drastic nationwide police-enforced lock down as aimed at preventing large-scale transmissions during the festivities.

He also said during his statements, "we see positive signs on the horizon" at a moment over 8,400 Israelis have been confirmed for COVID-19, including 53 deaths as of Monday afternoon.

In the ultra-Orthodox Israeli city of Bnei Brak, via AFP.

Netanyahu in his remarks touted that Israel has successfully initiated testing on a more expansive level than any other country currently hard-hit by the pandemic, and emphasized health officials are determined to reach 10,000 tests a day.

Police have been particularly active in resistant ultra-Orthodox towns, especially Bnei Brak outside of Jerusalem, for broad refusal to shut down synagogues and religious schools amid local mandates.

The new national lockdown and strict curfew for Passover still needs to be approved by the cabinet, where there's been fierce internal debate over whether the lockdown should only be applied to ultra-Orthodox communities, given the rapid spread of the virus there and broad refusal to abide by health restrictions and social distancing.

Likely the new lockdown orders will be met with resistance in conservative neighborhoods, given also Passover is among the top few most important observances on the Jewish calendar.